It’s science!: Catapult system helps Cyclones train smarter


AMES — The high-tech Catapult performance system Paul Rhoads mentioned on ISU football media day continues to impress him and his staff.

 The early data returns have already helped coaches confirm when’s a good time to increase, or decrease a players’ intensity in workouts and practice.

 The system’s also helping the Cyclones devise highly-focused and varied team-wide practices as Saturday’s 11 a.m. season opener against North Dakota State nears.

 “It’s different now because it’s a week one game of training camp,” Rhoads said Wednesday. “Next week will be more of a true week one or game week, that our Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc., will be more true to form. We’re backed off from what we’d be on a normal Wednesday today. But the Catapult system has helped us to arrive at where we want to be with that, too. And it’s also starting to confirm what our naked eye is seeing at the same time.”

 In training camp, Rhoads pointed to Catapult-derived data that helped coaches determine wide receiver Jarvis West needed to back off a bit in workouts, not amp them up.

 He’s said they’re just scratching the surface with the system, but it’s been an invaluable corroborator of those “naked eye” set of assessments that take place all over the field on a daily basis.

 “There have been some people out at practice this week and they’ve talked about the organization of it and what goes into it — and there’s a lot more going into it right now,” Rhoads said. “Tomorrow as a staff we’re going to talk the first part of the season — what we want to do Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We’re altering that a little bit, too, along with the number of meetings we’re having and so forth. So it’s been an enjoyable process right now. I’ll be the first to admit it.”

 One area Catapult has been highly lauded pertains to injury prevention.

 Rhoads’ team came through camp healthy this season — and even if that’s simply a correlation, it’s welcome news, with more to come.

 The Cyclones didn’t start fully using Catapult until the very end of summer workouts, so much more can be learned as the season progresses.

 “We experimented with a demo a year ago, but we didn’t know what the numbers were producing,” Rhoads said. “The strength staff, they talked to guys. It’s scientific. And you’re not relying on just the naked eye and your intuition.”

 Catapult’s perhaps most vocal — and certainly most high-profile — proponent in college football is Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, who has raved about the system.

 “Old school is not necessarily the best school with the way these offenses and the game is being played right now,” Rhoads said.

 To learn more about Catapult — and who uses it, click here. 


Rob Gray


Rob, an Ames native, joined Cyclone Fanatic in August, 2014 after nearly a decade and a half of working at Iowa's two largest newspapers. He spent 10 years at the Des Moines Register and, after a brief stint in public relations, joined the Cedar Rapids Gazette as an Iowa State correspondent three years ago. Rob specializes in feature stories for CF.