Blackfriars introduces Catapult GPS athlete tracking system

Cutting-edge GPS athlete monitoring technology, used by top-level sports teams across the globe, has been introduced at Blackfriars.

In what has been described as a “game changer”, Blackfriars is now using the Catapult performance analysis system to track, monitor and analyse athlete performance.

SACE Stage 1 and 2 Physical Education students will also learn how to interpret the data captured by the system.

Head of Blackfriars’ AFL Academy Beau Leonard, who also spent many years as an AFL trainer with Port Adelaide Football Club, said the technology was “huge for the boys”.

“We went through an investigation into the tech that is out there and decided on the Catapult … which is the same technology that’s used in AFL, NFL, English Premier League and other major leagues around the world,” said Mr Leonard, who is also Head of Aquinas and Horten houses.

The Catapult system will be used by our First XVIII footballers.

“There are 50-odd metrics that the unit picks up, including speed, acceleration, deceleration.

“From that, we can take that data and plug it into our computers and start to track different trends in games.”

The school’s athletes – including those in the specialist AFL and Soccer academies and the First XVIII and First XI – will wear the Catapult GPS units during training sessions and games.

“We’re looking at incorporating them into our AFL Academy Program, starting with Year 9s, so they can start to see what they are doing in a game and what they might be doing in their training,” Mr Leonard said.

“The technology is pretty amazing. It’s a game changer. And we are really just scratching the surface in what we can do with it.

“In terms of our first teams, the boys can access their own data on an app; they can see their own heat map, their own running speed zones, accelerations, decelerations.

“And if they are wearing it consistently, they can see, game for game, how they are going.”

The Catapult system will be used to track, monitor and analyse athlete performance.

The Catapult system would also be used by the Years 11 and 12 PE students to start to understand the increasingly data-informed world of sport.

“We’re getting data from the AFL, SANFL, A-League and the NPL (National Premier League), so we will have the elite-level data and we can get the students to then create their own data … so they can start to compare themselves to an athlete at that elite level,” Mr Leonard said.

“This is an industry-specific skill that for those boys who are looking to get into elite sport.

“It’s giving them the opportunity to manipulate and work with data sets. It’s where they need to be.”

Lewie Grainger, Alex Battistella and Ryan Scholz are among the athletes who will benefit from the Catapult system.

The school will also introduce video technology and heart-rate monitors to complement the GPS tracking and provide another level of information for the coaches and students to work with.

“I don’t think many schools … would be running this GPS technology,” Mr Leonard said.

“It gives the boys – those in sport, but also those in Years 11 and 12 who are doing PE – a massive leg up, because we are doing something that you can’t do without this technology.”

What is sports analytics?

At its core, sports analytics embodies the blend of data science and athletic performance, providing a blueprint that guides decision-making processes, from strategising game plans to refining individual skills. Its significance in today’s sports ecosystem cannot be overstated.

Sports analytics transcends mere statistics, offering a granular view of performance that encompasses a wide array of factors, including physical fitness, tactical acumen, and even psychological readiness.

The essence of what sports analytics entails is the transformation of raw data into actionable insights that elevate the performance bar, ensuring athletes and teams not only keep pace with their rivals but also outstrip them.

By transcending traditional coaching and training methodologies, sports analytics opens up new vistas for performance enhancement, heralding a future where data-driven strategies become the cornerstone of sporting excellence.

Source: Catapult

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