How Vanderbilt Baseball Leverages Catapult to Enhance Athletic Performance
With an illustrious history, Vanderbilt’s baseball program has consistently been a force to reckon with in the NCAA. Known for their competitive edge, the Commodores are always seeking innovative ways to maintain their momentum.
“Our end game has always been to ensure our athletes have the necessary output to compete at the top levels, especially in the SEC.”Vanderbilt’s Strength and Conditioning Coach, Walker Grisanti
This integration with Catapult aligns with three key themes: the use of technology in sync with S&C principles, harnessing data and analytics in baseball, and the introduction of Pitch Metrics to objectify the performance of athletes in baseball’s most influential position.
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Vanderbilt & Catapult: Synchronizing with S&C Strategy
A dynamic and evolving philosophy underscores Vanderbilt baseball’s approach to strength and conditioning.
“We want to build our athletes to have the output to compete in the SEC. We aim to expose our athletes intensely and frequently during training to ensure they respond positively ahead of competitive games,” states Grisanti.
The reason for adopting Catapult technology traces back to the football program and the need for specific training practices. As Grisanti highlights, “The weight room has its generalities, but the need for specificity in speed and conditioning is paramount. Catapult fills this gap, precisely understanding player dynamics during training and games.”
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A Scientific Approach to Monitoring Baseball Players
Today, baseball is as much about numbers as it is about intuition. Grisanti notes, “Being able to make smarter decisions in preparing the athletes is pivotal.”
With Catapult’s real-time data, the Vanderbilt Baseball program can strike a balance between overtraining and undertraining, ensuring that athletes are adequately prepared for competitive periods.
Hunter Reeser, Vanderbilt Baseball’s Assistant Strength Coach, says, “We’re keenly focused on monitoring load, speed, and specific acceleration efforts. Catapult’s technology provides a clear picture, ensuring we’re aligned with game intensities and our training goals.”
The specific metrics they monitor: “We’re looking at avg. Player Load, avg. distance, avg. high speed (12 & 16+), max velocity, and acceleration band 2 & band 3 efforts,” says Reeser These metrics help match game demands to training sessions, ensuring progressive intensity and volume.
In addition to specifically monitoring set metrics, Catapult’s real-time feedback has often resulted in direct adjustments to player training plans. Grisanti elaborates, “There’s a common misconception that workload management always means less work. We’ve used Catapult’s insights to make sure players are progressively accumulating more work.
“In some cases, we’ve had to dial back on an athlete’s training volume due to fatigue. In others, it’s been about pushing them to accumulate more work. Catapult gives us that clarity.”
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Building Bridges through Dashboards
In bridging the gap between the data and its application in baseball, Vector’s dashboards have played an important role.
A testament to the effectiveness of the dashboards, Grisanti proudly shares, “Having clear and concise dashboards helps the communication process. The visuals help understand what the day, week, or month looked like,” Grisanti explains.
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Maximizing Tech without a Dedicated Team
With elite teams across various sports utilizing Catapult, a common misconception is the need for a dedicated team to oversee its operations. However, Catapult’s robust Customer Success team ensures NCAA programs can seamlessly integrate and optimize their technology.
Reeser praises their support, “We’ve been fortunate to have a dedicated Catapult sports scientist who’s been instrumental in tailoring the system to our needs. This has given us sharper insights into our athletes’ performance dynamics.”
Further, Grisanti adds, “With Catapult, we’ve achieved a common language among our performance team, ensuring we’re all aligned in our training objectives. It has also been important in our return-to-play protocols and fine-tuning our competitive strategies.”
Gaining Trust: Athletes and Coaches Embracing the Tech Era
With advancements in technology, it’s no surprise that today’s athletes are more receptive to integrating athlete monitoring devices into their routines. Vanderbilt’s players are no exception.
“Our athletes have showcased immense curiosity about the Catapult Vector devices. It’s been a great educational opportunity for us,” mentions Reeser.
However, it’s not just the athletes. The coaching staff has also seen the value in the data Catapult provides. Grisanti notes, “The insights from Catapult often highlight nuances that might have been overlooked. It reinforces that our training plans are on track and helps us ensure our session goals are met.”
Looking ahead, the Vanderbilt Baseball program remains committed to pushing the boundaries of athletic training and performance.
“We pride ourselves on being great on-floor coaches and building relationships with athletes. If a tool can help our athletes progress, we want to invest in it,” Grisanti emphasizes.
Both coaches are eagerly awaiting the integration of future ‘Pitch’ monitoring to preempt acute injuries. “We didn’t deal with many soft tissue injuries last season. We’re now excited to monitor and track pitching metrics this year to reduce arm fatigue and injuries … working with Chris G [Customer Success Specialist – Baseball] can give us a better understanding of how to do just that,” Grisanti remarks.
For others contemplating adopting this technology, Grisanti’s endorsement is unambiguous, “Catapult has been a massive developmental piece for me.” Reeser agrees, praising the company for its unparalleled customer service and for being “a unique opportunity to lead the way and the best piece of GPS equipment.”
In a sport as dynamic and competitive as baseball, having a technological edge can make all the difference. For Vanderbilt, Catapult is that edge, driving smarter decisions, improving performance, and ensuring their athletes are always at the top of their performance.
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