Having already partnered with some of the world’s most recognisable sports teams, Catapult Sports continues to build its footprint as a leader in performance analytics.

InsiderSport spoke to Albert Tsai, SVP of Global Elite Products at Catapult Sports, detailing the importance of the group’s partnership with Prevent Biometrics, deepening its commitment to player protection with the development of the world’s first accurate, real-time system for monitoring athletic head impacts.

InsiderSport: Firstly, can you tell us a little more about Catapult Sports and the role you have at sports clubs?

Albert Tsai: Catapult Sports is the world leader in elite performance analytics. We work with over 2,500 teams around the world, such as Real Madrid, the France National Team, Wales Rugby, the ECB, NHL, and many NFL teams. We create technology to help athletes and teams perform to their true potential. Our products are designed to optimise performance, mitigate the risk of injury, and quantify return to play.

InsiderSport: Are you able to expand on what the Catapult technology does to help athletes prolong their careers and maximise their performance?

Albert Tsai: Catapult has solutions for every element of the performance ecosystem; from wearable tracking to athlete management and video analysis. Our wearable technology combines precise positional tracking with inertial sensors to quantify athlete performance across training and games. It tracks over 1000 data points per second, to measure metrics ranging from training load, to distance, sprints and intensity.

InsiderSport: Can you tell us more about the partnership with Prevent Biometrics and the technologies will be tested as part of the new collaboration?

Albert Tsai: Catapult has partnered with Prevent Biometrics to support the development of the world’s first accurate, real-time system for monitoring athletic head impacts. Upcoming tests will see a number of elite American Football, Rugby and Australian Rules teams equipped with Catapult’s ClearSky athlete monitoring technology and Prevent’s Impact Monitor Mouthguard. The tests will aim to evaluate athlete performance and head impact in an integrated way, with the ultimate ambition being to understand the physical demands of elite competition, emphasising wellness and safety while putting athletes in the best position to perform.

InsiderSport: What type of role does performance data play in noticing and preventing head injuries?

Albert Tsai: Catapult’s performance platform is built to deliver live data to coaches and athletes so they can monitor and make adjustments while athletes are actually training.  In order to do so, we’ve invested a lot of R&D in creating infrastructure that solves the problem of collecting and delivering thousands of data points per second across full rosters where players may be hundreds of meters away.  In that regard, we believe in the future there can be significant value in providing monitoring and instant notification to staff in environments where it’s not practical to be in the range that bluetooth only communications are limited to.

From a prevention standpoint, we believe that a comprehensive data set that combined head impact and overall performance data will provide teams with the context necessary to identify and more fully understand the types of situations that seem to yield the most head impacts (particularly unexpected ones).  To us, this is actionable insight as it will lead to adjustments in how teams train and prepare. And in this regard, the value of the data will come full-circle as they will be able to actively measure whether or not these changes are reducing head exposure over time as expected.

InsiderSport: How important is it that sports clubs place head injury prevention as a foremost priority?

Albert Tsai: From a competitive standpoint, teams are most likely to be successful when their best players are available and prepared.  In many sports, head injuries are a significant reason why key players become unavailable for multiple, significant stretches over the course of a season or even career.  

From the athletes’ standpoint, there is genuine concern about the long term toll that exposure to head impacts can have on their lives after they retire from competition.  So in all cases head safety and the reduction of impacts is already a foremost priority. What we feel is special about what we are doing with this partnership is bringing a level of objectivity, accuracy and context to the data that is and will be used by teams and athletes alike to improve overall well-being.

InsiderSport: What are the next steps in terms of the collaboration with Prevent Biometrics, as you seek to evolve your technology to the next level?

Albert Tsai: We have a lot of ideas. Catapult has a comprehensive, holistic performance stack so the possibilities are somewhat endless. Tying in video so people can further examine specific impacts to look for cause or to supply medical staff with context as they go through their evaluation of an athlete post impact are definite possibilities.  

Deep integration into our AMS so that tracking and management of an athlete’s complete performance and medical history are in secure, singular system is another. But with all new initiatives, our process is to work with our customers to identify the next set of needs and opportunities that will most directly benefit them and from there, the evolution of our collaboration with Prevent will become somewhat self-evident.