The members of the Performance Sport department at Bristol University are always looking to advance and improve the way in which they manage and support the development, health, and performance of our student-athletes. Their latest innovation, brought in on trial by the Strength and Conditioning (S&C) department facilitated by Dr Will Sparkes, is a set of top-of-the-range GPS units provided by Catapult Sports, an Australian-based sports analytics company that works with many of the top professional sports teams around the world.
These highly advanced GPS units are able to record and monitor every single movement an athlete makes on the field or court, including, but not limited to: distance, speed, heart rate, accelerations, decelerations, repeated high-intensity efforts, impacts, changes of direction, and the number of contact involvements. This data is invaluable in helping determine the workload of individual athletes and teams, allowing informed decisions to be made on the design and delivery of training to optimise fitness, reduce the risk of injury and provide athletes with a data-driven return to play should they suffer injury.
Over the last month, the team have been gathering data from Rugby, Football, and Tennis squads and will be monitoring additional sports until Easter. Using their experience in elite sport, the S&C department has been interpreting this data to provide key performance feedback to our sports coaches and athletes.
They have already found some very interesting insights from each sport. For example, one of our Men’s footballers covered 11.5 km in a BUCS match, with over 1500 meters of high-speed running and 350 meters of sprinting – numbers typically seen in Premier League matches! This is a testament to the physical demands of our sports and the need for professional training methods and strategies in order to best prepare for the demands of competition.
Joe Goodman, Head of Rugby, said: “The data we have collected with the GPS units have revealed some key insights into the volume and intensity of our training sessions, which really helps me to plan training and ensure the players are as fit and fresh as possible on match day”.
The Performance Sport department, headed by Matt Paine, is dedicated to the health, performance, and development of our student-athletes. The team consists of practitioners covering physiotherapy, psychology, nutrition, and S&C, who collaborate closely with the technical coaches to support athletes in reaching their full potential, both athletically and academically. This partnership with Catapult Sports is just one of the ways in which the department is working to achieve these goals.