Oct 21, 2015Penn Leading Way in Sports Performance Technology
Ivy League schools are typically thought of more for their academic successes than athletic, but the University of Pennsylvania is well ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing technology into athletic performance development. According to an article in The Daily Pennsylvanian, the school is using equipment that few other college and pro teams have caught on to.
This includes the SpartaTrac system, which was introduced to the school in January. After athletes perform a series of baseline tests on three basic movements—load, explode, and drive—the system provides individualized workouts based on each athlete’s perceived strengths and weaknesses.
“It’s something we’re setting the standard on,” Penn’s Associate Athletic Director for Sports Performance and Head Athletic Trainer Eric Laudano said. “No one else in the Ivy League has this tool. Only a select few Division I colleges in the nation have it and only a select few pro teams.
“With these movements we can determine the deficiencies either in muscular weaknesses and movement patterns, and we are able to individualize each student athlete’s program based off of the broad team program. The end goal is to ensure that we’re addressing the missing link to not predispose student athletes to injuries.”
The system has already paid dividends, according to Head Football Coach Ray Priore.
“I think our kids came back in a more well-balanced shape,” he said. “For the first time in a long time we had less lower body muscle pulls—hamstrings and quads and hip flexors and stuff like that—which are sometimes based upon overuse and/or over- or under-training.”
The SpartaTrac system can also incorporate data from other systems, such as the BodPod, which measures body composition. According to The Daily Pennsylvanian, the school is using it to help student-athletes hit their target fitness and performance levels.
“The new arms race in athletics is nutrition,” Laudano says. “Not only from a ‘don’t eat this, don’t eat that’ standpoint. [The BodPod] allows the athletes to really see where they should be and where they are.”
Also new for the Quakers this year will be GPS tracking of its men’s basketball players during practice. This will help coaches better monitor the players’ oncourt efforts and workload.