Saskatchewan

U of S Huskies women's soccer team uses technology to track physical, mental health

"It's an opportunity to stay connected with our players, to always be ahead of issues that might arise," said Jerson Barandica-Hamilton, the head coach of the team. 

Tools help identify stressors that could be affecting players, track performance

The Huskies have been using technology to monitor how members of their team are feeling. (University of Saskatchewan)

The University of Saskatchewan Huskies women's soccer team is using technology to help them score. 

The Huskies are using a check-in app called AthleteMonitoring. Players fill out a questionnaire on the app and self-report how they are feeling. The app tracks sleep, mood, stress and soreness. 

"It's an opportunity to stay connected with our players, to always be ahead of issues that might arise," said Jerson Barandica-Hamilton, the head coach of the team. 

He said using the app is a preventative step in dealing with injuries, and it's a way for the coaching staff and physiotherapist team to keep track of how the athletes are feeling both mentally and physically.

The team is doing well this season, and currently ranks first place in their division.

Mental Health

Barandica-Hamilton said it's important to track mental health. 

"The biggest piece is [that] we are dealing with student athletes, and these girls have a lot of stressors in their life during these ages that they're with us," he said. 

He said some of the potential stressors for the players include being a competitive athlete, education, work, finances and sometimes social issues. 

If the athletes are going through a hard time and report feelings of stress, then the coaching staff will handle it on a case-by-case basis. That could include adjusting the player's load of training, or just a quick check-in with the player before practice. They also might refer the athletes to additional resources like mental health co-ordinators at the university. 

"For them to give us insight into how they are doing is really important because sometimes you don't see it on the surface level,'' said Barandica-Hamilton. 

He said the response from the team has been positive in terms of using the app, and that most players have been consistent and diligent when it comes to reporting on it. 

The The University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s soccer team celebrates after making a goal. (University of Saskatchewan)

Game Tracker

The app isn't the only technology the athletes are using. Last year the team also started using Game Tracker, a small device worn by the athlete during the game. It connects to satellite and allows the team to track a players' distance covered, jumps and speed.

Data from the device is also used to display a heat map, so the team can see where each player spends most of their time on the field. 

"That helps us understand the load of training from a physiology standpoint, but we've also connected it to a tactical perspective" said Barandica-Hamilton.

The team uses data from the device to help players understand what zones in the field they should be moving in during a game. 

Screenshot of the data gathered from using Game Tracker. ( Barandica-Hamilton)

He said the best advantage of using technology has been in injury prevention, and also the connection it's brought to the team. 

"The enjoyment with players knowing that there is always going to be someone there to care for them — it just helps our team stay connected and healthy and that's what we want," he said. 

The team ranks first in the Canada West East division as of right now. The Huskies need to win one more game in order to secure their spot in the playoffs.

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