Harlequins expands use of wearables to improve player performance
Harlequins expand use of wearables to improve player performance

Harlequins expands use of wearables to improve player performance

London-based Premiership rugby union side Harlequins has expanded its partnership with sports technology company Catapult Sports to better track and improve player performance.

The club is one of the oldest in world rugby, having been founded in 1866, but despite its age, Harlequins is looking to innovate.

The club has been using Catapult technology for a number of seasons to reduce the risk of player injuries. However, the current pre-season campaign will see the introduction of newer technology that not only monitors the physical impact of the sport on a player’s body, but also helps to assess their performance.

Moving beyond injury prevention

To achieve this, the players will be provided with 52 of Catapult’s OptimEye S5 devices. These fit into the back of the club’s playing jerseys, and through advanced analytical software, supposedly allow coaches and players to dissect data during and/or after a match or training session.

The device contains sensors that collect data on fitness and skill levels, in response to training techniques and tactical performance, helping coaches assess risk of injury, and the progress of player rehabilitation. Using the S5s, the club will hope to go better than its sixth-placed finish from last season, while keeping players fresh and performing at their best.

Speaking in greater detail about the benefits of the partnership, Tom Batchelor, head of sport science at Harlequins, said that “Having used [Catapult’s] services for a number of years, we were keen to develop our relationship with them further. We use the data on a daily basis to review the workload of the players to guide our approach to their physical preparation.

“We value our relationship with Catapult and hope that it will continue to grow, with the way technology and our understanding of the data is developing I can only see this playing a larger and larger part in the way we go about our work.”

Read more: CES 2017: Polar enters wearable clothing market with smart sports shirt

Serious pedigree

Catapult Sports has significant expertise in this area, recently signing a contract with South African rugby union side, Steval Pumas. The company’s reach goes beyond rugby, however, with more than 1,000 elite sports teams worldwide using Catapult’s wearable tech, including football giants Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, 2016 NFL Super Bowl Champions the Denver Broncos, the Golden State Warriors basketball team, and Argentina’s entire La Liga basketball league to name a few. Catapult says it is also seeing traction in sports with smaller participation rates, such as netball and handball.

With over 100 engineers and sports scientists working across 11 countries, Catapult’s Curt Taylor, head of UK sales, states simply that “Our purpose is to build better athletes”, which is no doubt exactly what Harlequins is looking for from this partnership.

Read more: Catapult Sports on wearables in sport, improving player safety and the future of tactical decision-making