IMG Academy: Using Catapult to prepare athletes for the NFL
The IMG Academy is designed to support collegiate athletes, professionals, Olympians and Paralympians to reach their performance goals. IMG can boast about famous alumni like Serena Williams, Russell Wilson, Tianna Bartoletta, Tim Howard, and LaShawn Merrit.
Specifically for American football, IMG provides best-in-class performance infrastructure to aspiring and existing NFL athletes. To date, the academy has delivered five #1 overall picks, 86 first-round picks, and three Heisman Trophy winners.
The Academy’s Strength & Conditioning Speed Development coaches are a major influence in the American football performance structure. They deliver custom training programs, mock NFL combine experiences, and off-field support via Catapult’s solutions and services.
How the Catapult benefits the IMG Academy?
- Objectifying training
- Evaluating rest and recovery
- Player development
The academy and their coaches use Catapult wearable devices to monitor athletes throughout their training and development, with a particular focus on getting athletes ready for the NFL Draft. Using the wearable devices in this way provides athletes the best chance of getting picked by one of the 32 NFL teams.
IMG Academy coaches collect and analyse key performance data with the help of Sports Scientist, Brett Grelle. Together they use the data to “take the guesswork out of everything we do,” says a former Strength & Conditioning Speed Development Coach.
Subsequently, the coaches and sports scientists have an objective understanding of the stresses the program places on athletes and can make accurate decisions as a result.
“With the data, I am able to control the volume of running, who needs more rest, who actually had a harder session, and who may we be able to push that little bit harder.”
Through developing this understanding, coaches have been able to tailor training more specifically to focus on and reflect an individual athletes’ needs. With this tailored approach, it is hoped that they can deliver greater player performances.
Rest and Recovery
Grelle has found Catapult useful when evaluating how much rest and recovery time athletes need to perform at their best. This is vital since athletes leading up to the NFL Draft will often take part in a series of pro days in which they have limited time in which to showcase their talents and raise their ‘draft stock’.
The coaches plan the academy NFL program to ensure athletes peak in time for pro days and the NFL Draft. They regularly consult Grelle on the data analysis he completes regarding training intensity and players recovery.
“We see if we can create more rest in sessions and see if that intensity goes up. If that intensity goes up, we start to balance everything out and it starts to flow into the plan that the coaches want,” explains Grelle.
The performance team enjoys seeing athletes develop over the weeks they have worked together. Individual player metrics are broken down regularly. Seeing this serves as a motivation so athletes can continue developing, and is proof that the program is working as desired.
“We have one guy who has been here for six weeks now. Over the course of the time that he has been here….he is developing the right way we want him to, progressing where we need him to perform better at the combine.”
Other players have also expressed that Catapult data has enabled them to perform better. Former IMG Academy Combine Trainee and current Baltimore Raven, Patrick Queen states that “my body feels 10 times better with the sports science that has been brought in. I just have the utmost confidence…I feel amazing right now, like the best I have in years.”
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