Baylor has had an "Applied Performance" program in the works for a few years now, but it recently took the next step and is now being fully implemented, becoming one of the first programs of its kind in the country.
Based on what many of the European soccer and Australian Rugby teams have already been doing, Baylor has decided to monitor how the stressors in a college athlete's life ultimately affect their performance.
"Everything that stresses a student-athlete - physical, psychological or social - we want to make sure we're aware of it, and find ways to assess that, to make sure we're putting the athlete as a whole in a great position to be successful," newly appointed Baylor Director of Applied Performance Andrew Althoff explained to BaylorBears.com.
The process started last summer with players filling out simple questionnaires that covered everything from how much sound sleep players were getting, to their daily nutrition, to how and where they're sore after workouts. They compiled that data among the team and then looked for trends. In turn, those trends told the Applied Performance division how to maximize individual performance. It could be something as simple as a 20-minute nap during the day or as complex as the nutrients they're putting in their body, depending on the individual.
Baylor has also recently equipped players with Catapult GPS monitoring devices, which is a device the size of a mini walkie-talkie that is strapped to the back of a players shoulder. The unit monitors max speed, changes of direction, and distance covered, and what they're able to do with that kind of information is limitless.
"Say you went 3,000 yards at practice. Well, 200 of those yards were 90-plus percent of your top velocity, and then, this many yards were between 75 percent. So, we can break it down into velocity ranges."
With so much information at the tips of his fingers, Althoff admits that part of his challenge in working with the football strength staff is to just give them the relevant information.
"Really, one of the only issues with this is too much information. My biggest job is to filter what's important, and then give tangible action steps based off of the data that I found, so that it's not just a bunch of information."
"It really is fun to work with Coach Kaz and the rest of the staff. There are no egos. It's just a bunch of humble people, rolling up their sleeves and going to work and making sure we can protect the student-athletes and do whatever we can to put them in a great position to succeed."
After reading about it briefly, what Kentucky has been doing with their "High Performance Program" immediately came to mind. While it certainly has it's own nuances, Kentucky was one of the country's first, if not the first, program to introduce this type of extensive monitoring of their student athletes. In the next decade, I can see every major college program following suit and doing the same in an effort to get every ounce of talent from their roster.