Football coaches have a tendency to mimic one another. They often look at what is working with other programs and integrate those practices into their current program. LSU Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coordinator, Eric Donoval understands the desire for coaches to compare their team with others and look for ways to improve. In his experience, however, Eric has discovered that the easiest ways to get better stem from analyzing within the LSU program.
Donoval used Polar’s GPS technology during the 2016-2017 season in an attempt to better understand the team’s performance, as well as try and gain a competitive advantage. The benefits became obvious, especially when Donoval began comparing performance as the season progressed.
“We can see the total load throughout the week, but we also see what a Monday practice looks like, what a Tuesday practice looks like and what a game looks like,” Donoval says. “Then we can compare. ‘Did we do too much on Monday? Did we do too little on Monday? On Tuesday did we work hard enough?”
This kind of evaluation allows Donoval and the staff at LSU to have concrete standards to make informed and objective decisions. It is a perfect example of a staff “controlling what they can control,” in order to make sure their team is doing all it can to be great.
Eric adds, “It just takes the guesswork out of it. It allows us to quantify everything the athletes do, and find trends and compare them to see if we are preparing too little or too much, or if they are over trained or we need to push them a little more.”
For Donoval, the process is simple; he monitors an individual athlete’s performance over the course of a few weeks, and then adjusts appropriately. With all of the charts and graphs that Polar’s GPS technology provides, it doesn’t take a genius to see what needs to be done.
“The biggest thing is to look back and see what they did the week prior, or even two weeks prior,” Donoval says. “Fatigue is cumulative, so it might not be something they did yesterday. It may be something they did two weeks ago that’s just catching up to them now.
“If they look really, really good we do the same thing,” Donoval says. “We can look at what we did the week prior and it sets our target for what we want to see moving forward.”
Another way in which Donoval’s coaching has improved since he began using Polar is in the way he is able to find big-picture trends and adjustments. It would be easy as a head coach to set goals for improving red-zone defense, or first down production based on hard data collected during the season. Using Polar, strength and conditioning coaches can narrow down the same kind of trends from a physical performance standpoint.
“It takes time to accumulate data and establish those trends,” Donoval says. “So year two is also going to be really important as well. We can look at the data and see when we played good and when we didn’t play good or when we felt tired and when we didn’t feel tired.”
Having the same kind of objective analysis that head coaches benefit from as a strength coach will undoubtedly pay dividends. It’s a huge part of the reason why Donoval thought it was important to start using GPS and data tracking technology. In the copy-cat culture where everyone borrows from each other, it’s a different type of advantage that has the Tigers excited for what the future may hold.
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Polar is the Pioneer of wearable sports and fitness technology and leader in heart rate monitoring, activity trackers and training computers. With nearly 40 years of experience and a proud heritage in innovative physiological and sports medical research, we cater to all levels of fitness by offering a comprehensive product range including cycling computers, wearable sports devices and activity trackers, training apps and online services. Our award-winning training computers are the number one choice among consumers worldwide, being sold through over 35,000 retailers globally. Headquartered near Oulu in Finland, Polar is a privately held company that operates in more than 80 countries including U.S. headquarters in Lake Success, NY.