Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll admitted earlier this week that Sunday night’s overtime game in Arizona — in which his team played to a 6-6 tie after five quarters of football — would take some effort to bounce back from, physically speaking. On Wednesday, Carroll said sports science data and technology goes a long way toward informing the coaching staff about how players are recovering.
Carroll is accustomed to providing information on injured players, about how they’re progressing, or whether they’ll be able to suit up for the next game. But it’s unusual to answer questions about how the entire team is bouncing back — however, playing an extra 15 minute period, which the Seahawks did Sunday, is also unusual.
Carroll was asked how he knows when to limit practice and how he knows that guys are recovered and ready to go:
“We have been monitoring for a long time now — it’s three years of trying to figure out how to do this and make sense of the data. We feel pretty confident that we understand it. Now you can’t measure guys in games, you know, you can’t use the equipment during the games, but we do know enough and we have a good sense for it now, I think better than I’ve ever had as a coach.
“The support system allows us to really be able to evaluate each guy, based on the load that he’s undertaking and all that. It does help us. And we really are responding to that regularly, throughout the week, regardless of what happened the week before. It’s a common practice for us now to check it out, know how many plays a guy got, what kind of exertion, and we can estimate from the games what’s necessary for the next week. So there’s a big process involved there. I really appreciate it.
“If you asked me four or five years ago if I’d be doing this I would have said, ‘No.’ Coaches for years have done it through their sense and instincts and savvy and all of that and now we have some more support and it’s proven to us to be very effective.”
Monitoring players with wearable technology is part of a wave of sports science aimed at better informing teams about the stamina and performance of players.
At the GeekWire Sports Tech Summit in July, Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin spoke of the GPS tracking system that he wears during practice to collect data on his workload. The information is analyzed by trainers and coaches.
“The positive side of the technology is that we are getting this feedback,” Baldwin said, adding at the time that if the team’s tech guru tells him he exceeded his workload he can come into practice and “chill” the following week.
The Seattle Sounders FC also points to analytics for some measure of the success the team has had over a long period of time.
“We monitor players with everything they do — which they don’t like very often — but it’s the way we can optimize their performance, keep them healthy, and not get anyone injured,” Sounders Sporting Director Chris Henderson said in 2015. Check out that story for an in-depth look at some of the devices the team employs.
Even after four hours of what clearly looked like exhausting football Sunday, Carroll said Wednesday that players such as Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner “have responded well” this week and should be ready as normal for Sunday’s game at New Orleans.
You can watch Carroll’s news conference in this Facebook video. His comments on monitoring player health starts at the 2:10 mark: