Joel Scheneman ran 6.5 total miles, with an average of 3.6 miles per hour, and a top speed of 18.2 miles per hour. No, this data is not from Schenemans most recent cross-country meet. These are Scheneman’s game statistics for West Ottawa’s soccer team, in a recent game against Caledonia. Scheneman achieved these numbers from the team’s newest piece of equipment: The Playertek by Catapult.
The Playertek is new to the Panthers this year. The trackers are given to the 10 varsity starters who wear them under their jerseys for both practices and games. After a game, the players access a website linked to their respective tracker. The website shows them dozens of statistics ranging from top speed and total distance to a map illustrating where they spent the most time on the field. The feedback is easily accessible and fully comprehensive.
Despite the obvious benefits of the tracker, wearing the new equipment was a change for many of the players. “At first, it was uncomfortable just because it’s literally like wearing a bra, and it was kind of tight,” says Sr. Blake Pedersen. Eventually, the players became accustomed to the trackers and began to realize all the benefits they could provide.
The team used them primarily to compare their effort levels between games. “The most helpful thing about the tracker is you are able to compare data from each game,” Pedersen said. “You’re able to notice things like my work ratio being higher against Rockford, than Grandville.” These comparisons were a major motivation for the players. “I personally use the tracker to try and push myself to improve all of my stats from the last game,” says Sr. Cruz Martinez. The ability to show the players exactly how much work they put into each game pushes them to exceed their limits and give their best effort every time they step on to the pitch.
Scheneman also described how the trackers have created competition between him and his teammates. He and Pedersen loved to compete to have the best stats. Nowhere was this competition more fierce than during their last regular-season game of the year. “Before our senior night, Ped and I were talking about how we were always within 0.5 kilometers of each other every game so, before our last game, we decided we had to make the most of it.” And they did. The whole game both players focused on not only winning the game, but outworking each other. “In that last game, we both got our highest mileage of the season at 14.03 kilometers for Ped and 14.40 for me,” says Sheneman.
Not only was the competitive spirit fun for the players, but also influential on the outcome of the game. “When we really push ourselves like we did in that game, we cover more ground and just play better,” added Sheneman.
This competition has extended itself to practices as well. The team embraced the competitive aspect of the trackers, giving out prizes after each game to the player with the best statistics in each category. “The tracker has created competition between the starters and making us work harder to have better stats than our teammates,” says Martinez. And for most, the competition is serious. “I personally want to win every stat the tracker has,” says Pedersen. The competition has improved the Panthers’ work ethic and motivation higher than ever before.
The Panthers enjoyed a very successful season this year, finishing the regular season with a record of 12-7-3, making them 4th in their very-competitive conference. For the players, a big reason this season was more successful than some in the past was the addition of the trackers. “They brought a competitive drive to our team that wasn’t possible without them,” says Pedersen.
The benefits of the tracker have proved invaluable. They give each player a mental advantage over their opponents because they now know exactly how hard they need to work to improve. The statistics from the tracker provide the players with the comprehensive knowledge necessary to compete in this day and age. As Senior Antonio Rodriguez put it, “The tracker has given us another point of view that we aren’t normally able to see on the pitch.”