Part 2: Manatee High’s Raising The Bar In Player Safety and Performance

Bradenton, May 16, 2019- In the midst of spring, programs are suiting up against one another in preparation for regular season ball. One team, in particular, is a step ahead; in my quest to find out more about the Hurricanes’ intriguing pieces of PlayerTek by Catapult GPS technology, I also got a chance to speak with the man who put the money where his mouth was and spoke the great idea into existence. Here is head coach Yusuf Shakir’s point of view on the player-evaluating technology revolutionizing gameplans around the globe.

“[The PlayerTek pods] are great; it shows us a variety of things like level of intensity, manages diets, calorie loss, how much they’re moving, and how active they are in practice. It keeps them fresh on a daily basis, helping to monitor how much we push them in practice.

“… We see immediate data right away, and it makes it easier to communicate with players; knowing if a kid is doing too much or too little and address it right away. Kids loved it from the beginning- the pod also measures top speed and explosiveness, so it’s put them in another competitive gear. The biggest thing has been focusing on the wide range of variables for them; afterward, we feed them breakfast before and after workouts in the mornings,” states head coach Yusuf Shakir.

Coach Shakir emphasized to me that they haven’t had to overcome nearly any challenges, in the fact that there’s so much data you can gain from this. It’s daily data-driven technology. and a major component the program has seen take effect are the kids really taking control of their diets and hydration.

When Shakir was a head coach at Lincoln High in Tallahassee in 2013, he informed me he was spectating an FSU practice during their championship run (Florida State went on to win National Title that same year). Then and there, he was exposed to the equipment when he got to talking with Erik Korem- the performance and nutrition coach at the time for the Seminoles.

“I was totally intrigued by it from that point on, says the long-time mentor. I was visiting in Chicago where one of Catapult’s offices are based when they called me asking if we wanted to be the first of the programs in Florida to expand the market after reaching out to find out more. My good friend in Texas, DeSoto High coach Todd Peterman who was their head coach at the time, did a presentation I watched in an Oregon conference on the technology when he implemented it.”

“I was sold on how they could keep kids in optimal shape going throughout the entire season. Injuries occur when kids are fatigued, often from neglected sleep and diet habits. The U.S. army did a survey on troops in the middle east, and the lack of recovery was the number one cause in the prominent dehydration and heat stroke they were seeing. REM sleep is key in achieving recovery within the body.”

Everyone from parents and kids to the coaching staff has embraced the idea in open arms- the Canes as a whole want to be known as a school that provides the players that develop through this process, with the best technology to be safe and successful. Shakir’s vast intake in this area of knowledge, aided by biology teacher and coach John Friel’s quick wits, made them fully capable of tracking how many hits their guys take; measuring contact intensity and where exactly on the helmet the blow initiates, from the time they step on the campus’ gridiron.

Coach Shakir concludes, “Any school that recruits our players can attain four years or more with longitudinal studies provided on our kids’ data; it’s an invaluable resource, and now the game of football can be studied from all levels. We want to take the assumptions out of the conversation and present the information that actually occurs. We’re cutting edge leaders and we want to continue that tradition- it’s truly game-changing. We say we love the kids and we’re committed to being the best and investing in their future benefits, that’s the bottom line.”

Heading into his third year as head coach of Manatee, coach Shakir committed to the Australian gear at the start of last Spring and it didn’t take long for the team to reap the benefits. Athlete’s new-found devotion in overall mental and physical health, safety and competitiveness are the key takeaways in what this equipment brings to the table and the logged data is another sure factor in players’ readiness for life at the next level.

Vaughan Sixbury, BCP Contributor