Amid the catastrophic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, sports organisations were swift to recognise the need to keep their athletes sharp throughout an unprecedented global shutdown.
Although uncertainty continues to linger over when the sporting calendar will return amid the coronavirus pandemic, clubs are keenly aware their athletes must remain in prime condition as much as possible without access to facilities or key equipment.
With customers including the Lawn Tennis Association, dozens of rugby teams and a number of football clubs, Wattbike and their fleet of smart indoor training bikes were the first port of call for many.
Wattbike CEO Rich Baker says: “It has been such a fast-evolving situation. We got a lot of calls from our clients needing immediate solutions. They wanted to hire bikes to send to their players, so we had to look at what we could do and what packages we could put together.
”Staying fit is going to be so important, not just for athletes but also for everyone else whatever your standard.
“What we wanted to do was work on community projects but we are very limited, what we are doing is making sure as a business we remain open so we can still deliver bikes, service bikes and fix problems, that is the best we can do.
“That goes a long way. If we are facing 12 weeks at home, we can still provide a service and a product to people and do that in a safe way that keeps everyone healthy.”
In Major League Soccer (MLS), many teams have been working on implementing remote systems that allow them to comprehensively monitor athlete activity remotely.
A common device has been Captapult’s Athlete Management System, allowing coaches to track their players’ work remotely and schedule sessions as required.
Mat Young, business development manager at Catapult, says: “The challenges they have all faced is they have no access to athletes and the athletes have no access to a facility, they are all locked up.
“The big thing is communication, how can they keep a regular day with a regular schedule, how can they share back and forth, how can they share and distribute weight programmes and conditioning sessions?
“That I where I think we have been able to step in and help and do it in a way that is safe and secure and meets data protection regulations.”
Catapult work with 14 MLS franchises, plus the referees, and Young admits that each one has adopted a different approach to dealing with the current shutdown.
Toronto FC have given their athletes a chargeable USB unit and, through a mobile app are programming sessions and then sharing results with staff.
The benefitds also go beyond team sports, with elite training centre ALTIS, home to many Olympic sprinters and track athletes, also using the technology.
A coach at ALTIS says: “In a difficult period like this, AMS is proving very useful to get a gauge on our athletes’ wellness, particularly as we don’t have daily physical interaction.
“Key things that we will track daily will be fatigue, sleep quality, soreness and mood, the latter being more mental health related.”
The outbreak has also caused Catapult to revise its strategies going forward.
Young adds: “We have had a real range of strategies put in place to deal with the pandemic.
“We have juggled our plans and pulled a system update forward as it will be a huge help for teams at the moment.
“This will enable athletes to share data with coaches on daily basis through our Vector app.”
Elsewhere, Playermaker, whose boot-mounted tracker is used by clubs around the globe, have also broadened their remit to offer greater support to teams.
CEO Guy Aharon says: “In a time like this we need to be creative and we are doing all that we can to deliver our products and services to teams so that they can manage their players’ fitness and reduce the impact on individual performance.”