How GPS will help the St. Xavier lacrosse team prevent injury this spring

SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- St. Xavier is always in the spotlight as one of the premier high school lacrosse programs in the area.

This spring the Bombers are also in the spotlight for an innovative way of tracking the health of 15 of their varsity players in practice and games.

St. X is using the Catapult system, a program that tracks the total volume of work and intensity exerted during practices and games. There were 15 players who wore global positioning system units during the Bombers' Division I state football championship season in 2016.

Chicago-based Catapult has two-thirds of the NFL and up to 70 NCAA teams as clients. St. Xavier is the only high school in Ohio using the system.

The technology doesn’t take into account the character of the players in a state championship season, but it’s a method of assisting players and coaches in being smart about the grind of a season.

“Especially looking at it now after we got all the data --15 weeks of football plus preseason -- to be able to see what we did for every single practice was really valuable,” St. X head trainer Michael Gordon told WCPO.com.

“We want to see how we can maybe tailor some of the things we do a little bit differently so that obviously we want to try to replicate the success we had this year (in football) in the future.”

And just like football, the aim in lacrosse is to become smarter in all aspects of the season. The program measures total running distance, number of sprints and heartbeat rate.

“The Catapult system should help take the guesswork out of optimizing player training and recovery patterns,” St. X lacrosse coach Nate Sprong said. “With the aid of our trainers, Mike Gordon and Ken Rushford, and their expertise, we will be able to make sure practices are imposing the right amount of stimulus for continued cardiovascular improvement.”

Senior Brady Stoll, who was a standout linebacker on the football team and plays defense in lacrosse, says the Catapult system gives a good gauge on how much effort he and his teammates are putting in.

Stoll, who is committed to UC as a preferred walk-on in football, says having the data helps with practice habits before games. He is one of three football players who are in the group of 15 lacrosse players in the study.

“It just feels like another piece of equipment,” Stoll said of wearing the GPS unit inside the “manziere.”

The St. X lacrosse team, which was a regional runner-up in 2016 after capturing the state title in 2015, opens the season March 20 against visiting Milford (7 p.m.).

Sprong likes what he’s seen in the early going for the talented Bombers. He also likes the ability to analyze any health data trends on the team.

“We would look at how much time they spent in high speed, what their fastest speed was during a practice or a game, what their (heart rate) exertion levels were,” Gordon said.

St. Xavier head trainer Michael Gordon likes the potential for analyzing health data for the lacrosse team this spring.

“Can we see trends? Can we see whether a practice was hard or not? Are we training well enough in the practice sessions in order to prepare us for games? We don’t have game data right now. With football, once we had the game data we could look at practice and add or subtract (drills).”

The school will work with the University of Cincinnati business analytics department this spring to analyze the data.

“We can analyze it in real-time,” Gordon said. “So that day we can look at it and give feedback to the coaching staff through email or sending a spreadsheet.”

The team already experienced a test run to check heart rates and conditioning levels with the GPS units after a two-mile run, 40-yard dashes and a shuttle run.

“The kids have really kind of taken to it,” Gordon said. “Hopefully it’s not a tremendous burden on them. They are just putting on a little extra stuff. They are putting on a heart-rate monitor and they will have a GPS. It will work pretty seamlessly.”

St. X will also use the Catapult system for the upcoming football season in the fall. The Bombers will play in the 20th annual Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown in late August with the opponent and date yet to be announced.

The school had plans for this basketball season, but since the football season ran long it was tough to transition in a timely fashion given the quick turnaround.

While St. X is the only high school in Ohio using the Catapult system this spring, the company has had conversations with other athletic powerhouses including Alter, Cleveland St. Ignatius and Lakewood St. Edward, according to Catapult product technician Chance Weisensel.

Ohio Elite Soccer Academy and Notre Dame College’s soccer programs have used the system too.

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