Tales from the Trenches: Stanford University Olympic Sports

Tales from the Trenches: Stanford University Olympic Sports

June 26, 2019

Tyler Friedrich is in his 3rd year at Stanford, his second as the Director of Olympic Sports Performance, after previously spending three and a half years at Arizona State University. Whilst at ASU, Tyler was responsible for the integration of sport technology for the Sports Performance department, and was a member of the Technology and Research Committee for Sun Devil Athletics.

In collegiate sport, in-season student athletes can be competing 2-3 times per week, which can quickly lead to an accumulation of physical stress. Because of this volume, Tyler and the performance team at Stanford were looking for a solution that would allow them to intelligently manage weight room loading through the tracking of bar velocity.

“In-season our athletes have a lot of pressure on them from a physical and psychological point of view and we wanted to guard against them getting burnt out,'' said Tyler. “Our athletes can be playing 2-3 times per week so through assessing the current scientific research we have been able to establish speed thresholds to enable our coaches to set our athletes’ a target speed zone to work within. If we prescribe a speed which is approximately 75% of their 1RM, their total volume is going to be dictated by how long they can maintain that speed. If they are tired from a game, volume with naturally be lower. Conversely, those athletes that haven’t played will be able to push the volume because they are more fresh.”

Stanford had previously used linear position transducers across their two weight rooms, but were looking to upgrade their system due to technical faults and increasing maintenance costs. Tyler knew about PUSH after seeing the Band 1.0 back in 2016 but he wanted to see how IMU technology had progressed over the last 3 years.

“We previously used Tendo’s but they were pretty cumbersome and sometimes had cable or screen issues. Ultimately we were looking for a more streamlined solution and after seeing in person how slick the PUSH system is, I said to the staff ‘we have to have this’. PUSH Portal was also a huge selling point to move over to the PUSH ecosystem. We are still in the early stages of using its full capabilities but looking ahead and knowing we can track and manage power and speed outputs all in one place is very exciting. I had seen Band 1.0 in a previous role and had decided to continue with the solution we had in place at the time. But when I saw the Band 2.0 and its increased accuracy and functionality, I knew it was the real deal.”

Due to the amount of student athletes that make their way through the Stanford weight rooms on a daily basis, integrating technologies which allows a seamless flow around the facility was vital for Tyler and his coaches.

“When our athletes enter the gym we have bands set up in every rack utilizing the bar sleeve so they can walk in, choose their exercise and start lifting right away,” Tyler explains. “There are phases when we will prescribe our athletes their bar velocity and they dictate the load, and there are times when we give them the load and they dictate the velocity. This was previously hard to manage as we used a paper system, however using PUSH has really removed this bottle neck. Our athletes used to be constantly writing things down but now with PUSH Portal, everything is recorded automatically. In-season we use target speed thresholds and record load, but out-of-season we switch that around. When we are out-of-season, I am not too concerned if our athletes do a little bit too much volume, however in-season we have to really guard against that.”

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“In one of our weight rooms we have 12 bands and in the other we have 10, with both servicing up to 70 athletes each. Each rack is equipped with one band inside the rack for squat variations and one band outside the rack for squat, deadlift and weightlifting variations. Our previous solution didn’t allow us to track velocity on this scale which led to poor work flow around the weight room.”

Although Tyler and his coaches at Stanford are new to using PUSH, there are plans to increase the use of PUSH and the Portal software which extends beyond tracking the ‘big rocks’. Programming fully using Portal and moving away from a paper system to reduce coach planning time is the aim for the end of 2019. And as with any new technology, the success of a system is down to if the athletes enjoy using it and are fully engaged and bought-in.

“Right now we are focusing on the big lifts but in the future I would love to utilize the real time feedback in our jumping program. Having the athlete see that instantaneous feedback will really help them see how intent can have such noticeable effects on their performance. We are currently working on a project to look at the demands of both beach volleyball and indoor volleyball where we are planning on using PUSH to look at jump performance alongside EMG activity.” Tyler continues. “Our athletes love the live feedback which we are providing through PUSH. We are working with highly intelligent kids who love data and the bar graphs in the app which appear immediately post-set allow them to see percentage changes across reps. This has also led to an extremely competitive environment, especially among our girls which is great to see. Student athletes in 2019 expect to be using iPads and wearable technology so the second they saw the iPad in the rack and the band with the little Stanford logo on it, they were bought in!”

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BIO: Tyler Friedrich

Tyler is in his 3rd year at Stanford, his second as the Director of Olympic Sports Performance at Stanford.  In addition to managing the daily operations of the Olympic Sports Performance Department, he is responsible for designing and implementing the sports performance programs for Women’s Volleyball, Beach Volleyball, Women’s Rowing and Men’s Water Polo.

Tyler can be found on Twitter @tfrieds75 and on Instagram @friedricht1