Enhancing The San Francisco 49ers Athlete Testing With PUSH

After a very eventful draft day, the San Francisco 49ers are looking towards the upcoming season with high ambitions. However, heavy preparation and hard work need to be put in long before a successful season can begin.

Coaches and trainers use performance baseline data as a starting point of their training programs. Without it, they have no data to monitor athletic development and the efficacy of training interventions through a season. Understanding where your athletes are at is the first step in getting them to where they need to go. 

The highest level of sport is no different. Day 1 of the 49ers offseason training program was all about performance testing. 

 

The Future Of Performance Testing

When first scheduling their testing program the San Francisco 49ers consulted with PUSH, among other sport technology companies, to provide testing solutions suitable for football athletes competing at the highest level.

By incorporating the PUSH Band into their testing program, the 49ers were able to both solve old challenges and create novel solutions to improve the way things are done on the training field. 

 

Accurate & Fast - The Vertical Jump Test

With 70 athletes being tested in a very short period of time, the 49ers needed a simple and efficient system that would keep testing time to a reasonable length without sacrificing the reliability of results. The PUSH Band was used as a novel solution for classical jump testing. 

The biggest time savings the PUSH Band provided was the removal of the need for manual data entry as signal processing and results streamed straight from the band to each athlete’s profile in the PUSH Portal. No need for pen and paper, and each athlete took less than 30 seconds to test. 

The vertical jump is a common test, which in football relates to an athlete’s ability to jump up and catch or block a pass. It also represents the total vertical force/power an athlete can generate which is a general measure of physiological muscular ability.

Once an athlete’s profile is created ahead of time in the PUSH portal or iOS app, and with the PUSH Band placed on the waist, the coach is able to be instantly measure an athlete’s jump height and power production. Setup is minimal and portable. 

In testing, jump height alone is only part of the equation, since a heavier athlete will have to do more mechanical work in order to achieve the same results as a lighter athlete. The PUSH Band’s measure of peak power takes this into account, and was a more relative measure of general lower body explosive strength for the 49ers.

The power achieved in a vertical jump has been validated in a study found here, and the protocol for vertical jump can be found at the bottom of this article.

 

Sport Specific Testing - Sled Push

Sports Illustrated recently wrote about the innovative features of the PUSH Band and how they could revolutionize the NFL combine, and those principles were put to use with the 49ers. Taking advantage of the Free Movement feature of the PUSH Band, the 49ers were able to establish and monitor an entirely new performance metric that was much more specific to their sport. The classical bench press test was modified into a more functional, sport specific test of horizontal force capability in the standing sled push test.

The bench press is traditionally used as a measure of of horizontal push performance in the combine setting, but it isn’t entirely applicable to the sport. The largest difference comes in that the athlete does not have to support and stabilize their body like they would when engaging opponent on the field.

The sled push represents the ability of an athlete to push an opponent backward, or stop their forward progression in a horizontal plane from a standing position. 

The PUSH Band measured both the peak acceleration and peak velocity of a sled push. Peak acceleration is the starting force required to engage or get the opponent moving (the ability to overcome the inertia of an external mass). Peak velocity represents the top speed the sled reaches and relates to an athlete’s ability to continually produce force throughout the end range of motion (continuous force production as high speed after high inertia phase).

The protocol for the sled push test can be found at the bottom of this article.

 

Results

The success of the PUSH Band in streamlining the San Francisco 49ers performance testing can be found in the numbers: 70 athletes were tested in under 2 hours. That’s less than 2 minutes per athlete for 3 sled pushes and 3 vertical jumps, including transition time.

The flexibility of Free Movement and the speed of the PUSH Band’s jump testing capabilities allowed it to seamlessly integrate with and improve the San Francisco 49ers baseline testing program. See what else it can do for you.


Testing Protocols:


Vertical Jump (CMJ Arm Swing):

  1. The athlete will perform a countermovement jump (CMJ) with arm swing.
            a) Feet are not allowed to shuffle during ground contact phase.
            b) The athlete must not tuck their legs in the air as this can inflate flight time.
  2. Test administrator will place Push Band on waistband/clip and secure to athletes waist.
  3. Test administrator will use the CMJ arm swing jump height test in the testing section of the PUSH iOS app.
  4. Select athlete profile through switch athlete function (athlete profile was created beforehand)
  5. Upon command from the test administrator (3 second countdown from PUSH band), the athlete will jump as high as they can, using as much arm swing as possible.
  6. Record the resulting metrics from the PUSH Band.
  7. Athlete will do 3 trials, taking the average and peak of the 3 trials.

 

Sled Push:

  1. Place push band securely on the sled with the LED end towards the sky. 
  2. Load the sled with:
            OL/DL: 250 lbs
            FB/TE/LB/LS: 200 lbs
            QB/DB/WR/P/K: 150 lbs
  3. Sled will be placed 0.5 yards from the start line.
  4. Athlete will line up with one foot on the start line, feet shoulder width apart.
  5. Test administrator will use Free Movement function in the PUSH Band app in order to measure the acceleration/velocity of the sled.
  6. The test administrator will give the go command 1 second after hitting the button, in order to have a quiet period for signal processing
  7. Upon command from the test administrator, the athlete will explode off the line and push the sled as fast and as hard as possible, with the goal of throwing the sled as far as possible.
  8. A trial will not count if: 
            a) a contact point of the sled jumps
            b) the athlete steps off of the line
            c) the athlete does not let go of the sled
  9. Record the score from PUSH Free Movement on the testing log sheet.
  10. Athlete will do 3 trials, taking the average/peak of the 3 trials.