The Longwood Lancers softball team represents Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. Competing in the NCAA Division 1 Big South Conference, the Lancers are five-time tournament champions, having most recently won the championship in 2019.
The Lancers are led by Dr. Megan Brown, the team’s head coach. Brown took over following the retirement of legendary head coach Kathy Riley. She has an extensive professional playing and coaching background which includes time in the ACC, Pac-12, and SEC and features a record-setting All-American stint at Florida Southern University.
The Lancers rely on building the best facilities and performance infrastructure to allow their athletes to develop and perform to their full potential. Linked to this, the team and Brown have adopted Catapult Thunder (formerly XOS Digital). Thunder delivers the Lancers a leading video analysis solution that supports key coaching and recruiting decisions, improves the speed, efficiency and impact of the video analysis process, and develops coach-athlete communication through improved athlete engagement.
So, why Catapult Thunder?
Brown was first introduced to Thunder at a leading softball industry event.
“I first heard about Thunder at the Softball Pitching Summit when I spoke with Karen Weekly from Tennessee. Karen was talking about how good Thunder was and how their team loved using it”.
Following on from this discussion, when Brown was hired as the pitching coach at the University of California and asked to research and recommend a leading film software program she turned to Catapult Thunder. Brown explains that, “I did research other solutions and watched several presentations but it was very clear which solution we needed to use. We needed to best, so we chose Thunder.”
As Brown moved on from the University of California to join the Longwood Lancers, she didn’t think twice about using it in Virginia.
“Before we started using Thunder here at Longwood, we honestly just used a pad and pen. I had a chart to complete or I would use my phone or app to analyse the team’s performances”. Brown knew that this had to change in order to improve performances to the next level. So she introduced the Lancers to Thunder.
“For me it is the whole solution. Starting with the ease of use. I’m not a super tech savvy person so to have something that is extremely user friendly is huge.
“I also love that I can watch and breakdown film on my laptop and multiple coaches can watch at the same time from their computers. You are never waiting for someone to be done to see films. Thunder provides our athletes the ability to watch film on their phones, this is also a big piece as well.
“Lastly the fact that I could call 24/7 if things weren’t working was a must. Many times I have called from a hotel room on a road trip to have something I didn’t understand fixed and the Thunder team is there when you need them.”
Supporting key workflows and creating a competitive advantage
The Lancers’ staff use Thunder to ultimately support key coaching workflows and improve team performances.
“The top three features we use are the scouting and breaking down of an opponent’s film, breaking down tendencies, and of course using it to see our own team”, says Brown. “The ability to break down and dive deep into an athlete’s skills is one of the most important pieces for us as a team and in our sport. The charts and breakdown features are amazing and give insights you just don’t get anywhere else.”
Using Thunder in this way enables the Lancers’ to establish a competitive advantage.
“Simply put, Thunder is the best. I know the competitive advantage it gave us at Cal and knew that it would be important to our success here. I saw things on the first scout I did with Thunder that I had never seen before. That was all I needed to see in order to know Thunder needs to be a part of any success performance program.”
Recommending Thunder and thoughts on Catapult
When asked if Brown would recommend Thunder to other teams and organizations she said, “absolutely. I would say consider the time you save by having a solution that is easy to use and can be used by your entire staff at the same time. The ability for each staff member to customize what they want to see and how they want to break things down is key for each area to have the best information possible.”
Brown continues, “in a world where our players are attached to their phones the opportunity to have them see film on their phones is key.
“I can highly recommend Thunder to others because the Catapult support is second to none. I cannot tell you how many times I have used Catapult’s resources, the team have come through quickly and made sure I was able to do exactly what I needed, when I needed to do it.”
“Lastly, Thunder just simply makes us better, individually and as a team. I am able to see things you just cannot see about your opponents if you use another solution. The amount of information I am able to access and the speed at which I am able to access it is huge for our team’s success.”
Image credit: Longwood University