MODERN, high-spec technology is finding its way to GAA clubs across the country, including Douglas.
An app called Actimet is co-owned by Galway-native, Rory McGauran, Lukasz Kirszenstein, the former Munster Rugby strength and conditioning coach, and South African tech wizard Edward Kaschula.
“Ten years ago video analysis was all the rage. Five years ago it was GPS, now it’s all about subjective analysis,” said McGauran.
Adam McCarthy from Cobh is using Actimet with Douglas senior hurlers and footballers this season and is enthusiastic about it.
“The basic premise of the app is to get a look at player-load, like any physical or psychological stress to the body.
“Players fill out the app relating to energy, mood, and sleep, both duration and quality, which gives me a picture of how ready they are for training.
“For example, two players might experience training slightly differently. One might mark it six out of 10 in terms of difficulty, 10 being maximum, while the other doing the exact same training might experience it at nine, meaning they found it a lot harder.
“The app, accordingly, gives me a more rounded picture of the player, based on their lifestyle and whether I have to make an intervention, tailor the session or work one-on-one a bit more. It could be that a player is finding a session, which I planned as being easy, quite tough and that tells me about their recovery or I’ve over-estimated their ability to tolerate the work.
“That could lead me to cutting back on the training or I might have to give the player a bit more insight into his recovery and being able to do it better. So, over the last year of using Actimet, I’ve found that it fills in the gaps that I can’t see in terms of recovery, for example.
“It allows me prepare a session based on the information received by the app.
“I’ve been using this form of technology for a long time and I’m comfortable in knowing what the numbers mean based on my own experience.
“If a player tells me he’s tired, I’d opt for a bigger warm-up so that he’s able to train more effectively.”
The app is very user-friendly, players needing only about 20 seconds to complete it. “They have a lot of different buttons to press, between six and eight, but I only look for them to fill out two.
“One is their activity and the second is their wellness.
“Those questions are ‘how’re you’re feeling today’? ‘what is your sleep like’? and ‘what are your energy levels like’? It is very simple to use.
“We’ve both found it massively beneficial. A lot of this technology would have come in to sport at the professional level. When the player experiences this kind of training, coaching, and feedback at club level, it does intensify the session and the player knows they’re being looked after.
“They get a sense here of the coach taking an interest in what I eat, how well I sleep and there’s a huge inclusivity factor to it as well. It also keeps fellows on their toes, when they’re not training in that other things count as well, not just pitch sessions.
This is McCarthy’s second season with Douglas, overseeing their strength and conditioning and training for both footballers and hurlers, about 50 to 60 adult players in all.
“Actimet is invaluable for dual club players in particular, especially playing from week to week, though the number of dual players is dropping. I see it in Douglas and I think it’s becoming almost impossible now for dual players to be playing both in the current schedule of games practically every week,” McCarthy said.
Generally, the cost is €50 per month per team, but during Covid it’s €50 per month per club, according to McGauran. “It allows players use the Covid sign-off component which replaces the need for paper.”
Galway are one of the counties using the app and interest has spread to Tottenham women’s soccer team, Polish sports and Iceland.
“There’s a lot of interest from ice-hockey in the US and Canada, as well as Spain and South Africa,” McGauran said.