Try not to laugh. And no, the data the Flyers are collecting from players during practice isn’t about who delivers THE MOST SOUL-CRUSHING HIT or plays with the most scrapitude.
Like Chip Kelly and the Eagles, The Orange and The Black are embracing sports science through their investment in Catapult Sports technologies.
I posted quite a bit about the Eagles’ use of Catapult’s OptimEye— basically a sensor placed on the body which measures movement, speed, acceleration, force, etc. It then spits out all that data onto a screen which effectively turns real-world sports into a video game simulation:
Count the Flyers in. Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post explains how they are using it (hard to believe that Isaac, who is doing a great job covering the Flyers’ use of technology, is the same guy who couldn’t fathom how the team would use Instagram to announce their starting goalie):
Flyers assistant strength and conditioning coach Ryan Podell brought the system to general manager Paul Holmgren’s attention in the offseason. Systems like this reportedly cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000 per season. Holmgren gave it thegreen light, and the Flyers have begun building data.
“All that stuff is interesting to look at,” Holmgren said. “How you get it to relate to your team and how it can benefit your team is what we’re gonna sit down and try to figure out. We’re all looking at ways to do things better and improve ourselves. This is just something new, but it sounds real interesting.”
Among the most important metrics that are being recorded are acceleration and deceleration. The length in which a player skates in practice is almost irrelevant because he could be gliding instead of powering through on any given drill.
“The cost of those decelerations and collisions become very important,” McCoy said. “Another thing we get the opportunity to measure is the rotational velocity of the athlete. If a guy has a slapshot, how fast can he turn his torso into that shot? It’s torso rotation that creates that speed and the significant output.”
Because the Flyers are still in the data-building phase, they haven’t really changed their practice routine at all. Players’ data is posted in the facility so they know where they are, but there’s no penalty for not reaching a certain measurement.
This focus on skating seems to be a theme of the Craig Berube era (I hate that that’s a thing), and now the Flyers will have some actual data to measure its effectiveness. But. But do you really trust Paul Holmgren and Craig Berube to oversee a foray into advanced sports technologies? That’s like giving Carrie Mathison an iPad loaded with top-secret apps to replace her corkboard. Sure, all this data is great, BUT OF WHAT USE IS IT IF IT DOESN’T LEAVE YOUR OPPONENTS BLOODIED AND HOLED UP IN A MOTEL ROOM SO YOU CAN FUCK THEM INTO SUBMISSION?
Sorry, I may have spliced those hypotheticals.
All Philly teams are now on board the math train. The Eagles and Sixers have guys who, early on, embraced technology and advanced metrics. Chip Kelly and Sam Hinkie are seen, for better or worse, as pioneers in their respective sports. But Ruben Amaro, who has said that the Phillies will dip their toes into the perfectly-chlorinated pool of sabermetrics, and Holmgren… well, I’m not so sure they will know what to do with all those numbers! You can envision both men sitting in their offices in jaw-dropped amazement at the sum function in Excel as they gleefully explore all the different input combinations that add up to 69. Giroux plus Raffl plus Schenn… plus Hartsy! 69!!! Heh.