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NFL Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills: Can New Technology Prevent Injuries During Practice?

Doug Marrone

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills are now using effective ways in which to monitor their players during practice.

The goal was to create a way to cut down on injuries, especially with training camp practices coming up next week. The analytics company that was chosen was the Australian-based Catapult. For years, the Australian Rules football club and EPL soccer clubs used Catapult to monitor players during their training.

The Bills have hit the injury bug over the past couple of years. In 2012, Buffalo had 12 players on their injury list and in 2011, 13 players were on their IR.

Since spring, Buffalo’s coaching staff has been collecting data on players throughout practices. Catapult has provided the coaching staff with a database for each player, and has been able to capture acceleration, deceleration, change of direction, top speed and total distance run using GPS trackers. The GPS trackers are about the size of a pager and sit inside a custom-made shirt worn by the players with a pocket underneath the back of the neck.

After the practice is over, the coaching staff put the devices on the docking station and examine the results from each player. The devices can range anywhere from 50 to 100 variables which shows how hard the player is working.

The term used by Catapult to describe this is “player load”. Player loads that are 300 or higher are required to be notified to the coaching staff. Using the devices can show how some players may need to have their routines altered during practice.

The data from the devices may also be used for rehabbing purposes. If the coaching staff wants a player coming off of injury to work at 50 percent, then the strength and condition staff can make the necessary changes for that player using the Catapult systems.

The ultimate goal of this technology is to help Bills coaches get their work done at the correct pace, but do it in a way that doesn’t stress the players’ bodies, keeping everyone happy and healthy.