Apr 14, 2022Data-Driven Athletics
How the University of South Carolina advances player performance with Polar Technology
(Sponsored) With over 40+ years of experience in athlete performance tracking systems, Polar offers proven technology to enhance player performance — providing athletes with personalized data and helping transform it into actionable guidance.
Molly Binetti, director of performance for the University of South Carolina (U of SC) women’s basketball team, began using Polar during her first year as a coach in 2013. In a previous role coaching a variety of sports in Louisville, Binetti used Polar’s technology. She knew she wanted to implement the tools in her new role at U of SC as well.
After accepting the position, Binetti and U of SC’s women’s basketball head coach, Dawn Staley, focused on tracking athletes’ heart rates and other fitness levels — that’s where Polar’s Team Pro System came in.
“I wanted to get (Polar) to collect as much information as possible, especially for me coming into a new program,” Binetti said. “I wanted to know what is average for an athlete, what is the worst-case scenario for an athlete, and what is the spectrum of things they need to be prepared for over the course of an entire season.”
For the last four years, Binetti and her staff have used Polar’s Team Pro system technology to improve athletes’ understanding of their own fitness, development and workload.
“The main metrics we look at is internal training load, time spent in heart rate zones four and five, total distance, and we’ll look at totaldistance in different speed zones. I’ll also look at high-intensity accelerations and decelerations in the top two zones to see what that total volume is like,” Binetti said.
By tracking these metrics, Binetti can better prepare during the off-season and compare athletes’ status during practices and in games — integrating her own philosophy with Polar’s technology to ensure athletes understand the data given to them and improve their individual performance.
“I think my approach to development is really trying to teach the athlete to take ownership of their development and become interested in the data,” Binetti said. “Not because I’m telling them it’s important, but because they’re finding why it’s important, and they’re finding aspects of the data that we’re getting from Polar that mean the most to them and things they care about.”
Binetti also works to conceptualize the data collected from Polar to help athletes take more interest personally in their physical fitness.
“We try to use data to the best of our ability to make the most informed decisions on a daily basis. I’m introducing them to new concepts of what (Polar Team Pro) can show us throughout their career here,” Binetti said. “Data is the most powerful when the athlete owns it, and they want it. We get a lot of data from Polar, but it’s what is most meaningful for that athlete in the moment and how that data is going to help improve them in the long run.”
During U of SC’s first year of using Polar’s wearable technology, Binetti helped athletes get comfortable with the gear by having them only wear it during practices — helping athletes and coaches learn about their performance and understanding what to improve on. Once athletes were comfortable with the gear, they started wearing the technology during every game, while also continuing to wear it during practice.
“We collect as much information as possible, so I really have an understanding of each individual athlete and what their profiles look like. Now it’s just part of what we do,” Binetti said.
While Binetti helps conceptualize the data tracked by Polar, a team of students in U of SC’s Excercise Ph.D. program help create reports and analyze every athlete’s data to make it easy to understand for both coaches and players.
“I use that information for myself and know what I may need to modify in my realm, and if there’s anything that seems off or concerning, I can communicate that with our head coach,” Binetti said. “We use (the data) to reinforce the decisions we are making on a daily basis.”
Since Binetti’s use of Polar, U of SC has introduced the technology to more athletic departments across the university. Their goal is to create a relationship between U of SC’s Exercise Science Department and sports teams to publish data-driven research.
“We’re really trying to create a department-wide use of Polar amongst all of our teams. We’re creating a streamlined approach to how we’re collecting our data, to how we’re analyzing it, to how we’re comparing it to different sports,” Binetti said. “On the flip side of that, we’re helping our Exercise Science Department get data to publish research on elite-level athletes. There’s definitely a relationship that’s formed over the past few years where we’re really trying to build the University of South Carolina into the premiere research institution as well as continuing to have all of our athletics at the top.”
Learn more about Polar at www.polar.com/us-en/b2b_products/team-sports.
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