In recent years, lacrosse has grown significantly. Team and athlete demands have increased as lacrosse has become more competitive across all levels of play.
We caught up with NCAA Division 3 Christopher Newport University Women’s Lacrosse Head Coach, Lisa Valentine, to discuss:
Growth of and subsequent changes to the game of lacrosse.
Lacrosse-specific reasons to adopt wearable technology.
Q&A – 7 ways Catapult is improving the Christopher Newport Captains’ performances.
Growth of and changes to lacrosse
Valentine explains that, “lacrosse is changing so much and, especially so, in the last four years. The new speed of the game makes it an incredible sport to watch and play.
“Lacrosse has also grown across all NCAA divisions and other levels of play. Lots more programs are being added each year and this is a particularly awesome opportunity for women to explore a fast, aggressive, and tough sport.”
…so why did the Christopher Newport Captains adopt wearable technology?
Increased game speed and physicality means athletes are required to be more athletic than ever before. According to Valentine, this lends lacrosse well to the use of wearable technology.
“At Christopher Newport, I focus on being the best I can for my student-athletes. We do a lot of individual development, including strength and conditioning, goal setting, and activities relating to performance, rest and recovery.
“I definitely like to be an early adopter and have all the information and data possible. I first heard of Catapult from our strength and conditioning coach. He mentioned how useful it would be at monitoring the increased risk and impact on student-athlete safety as the game has increased in speed and physicality.”
“We originally started using 10 devices, just to try it out. But before we even finished our fall season, we were like ‘all right, we need more’. So we quickly added more devices.”
Q&A – 7 ways Catapult is improving team and athlete performance
How does Catapult support you as a lacrosse coach?
“Catapult reassures those instinctual feelings that coaches have and takes the subjectivity out of the coaching.
“Every coach knows that moment when you’re walking in from practice with your assistant coaches and you’re like “so and so” really stood out today. Using the data, we can back up what we’re thinking intuitively.”
You’ve previously said how you use the Catapult data to keep your athletes accountable, can you explain how?
“Catapult enables us to monitor our progressions made throughout the year, what thresholds we need to be hitting in order to improve, and keeps us coaches and our athletes accountable towards our performance goals.
“Our athletes use the Catapult app which has all the data and graphs they need without overloading them. We also put it on our Google Drive so they can compare themselves with others.”
By doing so, Valentine explains that, “our athletes then come to practice sessions with questions and talk to us about what the numbers mean. This is perfect for the style of coaching we want. “
Has the technology developed your understanding of the changing nature of lacrosse?
“Using Catapult has helped me understand the intensity of the practices…it allows us to check if we are doing what we need to to prepare for games.
“Through looking at the data, I have been able to understand that certain athletes were running the same amount as others in different positions. Surprisingly, we found that our defenders and attackers run just as much as our midfielders. Prior to using the technology, we weren’t training to reflect that.
“Being able to analyze in this way enables me to design our practices to better reflect our game intensity. This was a significant benefit to the team and our program, exactly what we needed.”
What impact has wearable technology has on injury prevention and awareness?
“To have access to that data and track athlete trends is huge when looking to avoid injury. As a result of having the data to hand, we’ve worked closer and more objectively with our athletic training staff.
“Now, we regularly assess the workloads being placed on our athletes. We can see the ‘mileage’ our athletes go through and the stresses placed on their bodies. We’re really excited to expand in this area of injury prevention and recovery.”
Do you training plans change throughout the year and where does Catapult fall within that?
“Catapult has really helped me focus more on what an effective training process looks like.
“It really helps us as we look to build through the year. In the fall season, we can focus on the fundamental skills, goal setting, and motivation side of the game. Then, after that fall season ends, our athletes work on building their strength, adding to their fitness and conditioning level.
“As we move towards the start of a season, we prepare our athletes to compete hard and peak for games. All of which is trackable with the technology.”
Athlete buy-in and self development are key themes of performance for you, so have your athletes bought into using the technology?
“It’s really exciting with Catapult for our athletes to be able to see their reports and compare themselves. The data collected adds a competitive edge, encourages them to ask questions, and understand how their bodies work and recover.
“Together this helps them get better in the process of their development and the time they are here with us at Christopher Newport.”
Can you sum up the Catapult technology in two to three lines?
“Catapult sets itself apart from other technologies by being really easy to use. It is detailed without being overwhelming and the reports provided make the data easy to manage, understand, and communicate to athletes and other coaches.