The strength and conditioning department in Leinster Rugby have been using a GPS advanced training system provided by STATSports Ireland since November 2008.
As a tool, the GPS system provides detailed, accurate and objective feedback on the activity levels of all players being monitored.
Data provided includes the overall distance covered by players, the top speed covered, heart rate variation, the number of impacts made, a quantitative record of the various forces the body withstands during sessions, work rate per minute, the overall body load on a player and numerous other specific parameters.
The system is capable of real time and retrospective data analysis and STATSports provide individual and team reports and analysis of each session by the next day.
The system has been utilised successfully in the following areas:
The data gathered allows the coaching staff to assess the relevancy of the training programme designed for each of the sessions.
Leinster’s strength and conditioning coach Jason Cowman said: “We now obtain objective information, in real time, which allows us to acknowledge whether the required physical training adaptations occurred for the group as set out in the training programme.
“For example, if all our backs hit an 85% + value for their top speed then the session plan had relevancy in terms of speed development work.
“The system also allows us to assess the forces of impact on players and the direction of that impact which is hugely important during scrummaging and contact sessions.
“If any of these pre-set targets are not being met, it allows us to manipulate the training programme in real time within the session or in our subsequent programme planning meetings.
“In terms of player monitoring and management we can now objectively measure each player’s physical parameters in a rugby specific environment.
“This allows us to favourably manage a player’s commitment to a session by giving them constant feedback as to whether they have achieved the physical goals set out prior to the session.
“It also allows us to assess whether and why a player’s physical reaction to a session may be higher or lower than the group average and manipulate the player’s interaction with the session accordingly.”
The service provided has become an integral part of the strength and conditioning programme in Leinster Rugby and the province is the first northern Hemisphere club to commit to working with STATSports Ireland and the GPS.
It is an innovative relationship and Leinster are looking forward to building its strength and conditioning programme around sports science and sports technology over the coming years.