In 2018, North Shore United broke an 11-year promotion hoodoo to qualify for New Zealand’s Northern Premier League. Now, in their first year of Premier League competition, the Maroons are delivering powerful performances that are putting them on top of the NRFL ladder.
The club made an extraordinary change at the beginning of the year to develop their performance culture. New objectives were proposed, the club signed Head Coach, Malcolm McPherson and brought in Sport Scientist, Facundo Ramirez, to develop a competitive team in the face of the new league.
Arriving from the New Zealand All Whites coaching staff as Strength and Conditioning manager, Facundo’s immediate focus was to improve performance at North Shore United through the application of psychology, physiology and biomechanics principles and techniques.
“Sport technology helps us to understand players in a complex way. It allows us to understand that all players are different in a common game structure, whilst understanding that each player of that structure has a certain role with individual physical demands” explains Facundo.
“I think the key to using technology is to create performance profiles for each player which can relate to different patterns that correspond to the demands of the game in order to allow players to compete in the best possible way and as many times as possible.”
Malcolm and Facundo’s first step was to create a proposal of physical preparation and high performance to generate a competitive and dynamic environment for the players. They implemented performance-improving exercise and training programs that were focused on an integral complex methodology that responds to the specific demands of the game and the needs of the team’s game structure.
In order for this to happen, Facundo invested in SPT GPS tracking for North Shore United so that he could gain the ability to analyse and monitor the load of training and matches, as well the ability to create physical performance profiles week to week, game to game.
“For a long time, I was looking to introduce GPS technology to improve my planning and to understand the performance of my players more deeply. After an intense market study in relation to different GPS brands, I decided to utilise SPT at the club. SPT's features and software are very convenient, easy to use, fast and easy to apply to the field of game” explains Facundo.
“The GPS data of each player helps us to make many decisions. For example, adjusting the intensity of the sessions and generating recovery strategies, taking into account the position of each player and the demands on the player within our game system. We relate the data obtained with other factors such as the age of the player, their injury history, the number of games played, the stage of the season (pre-season or regular season) and the importance of the next game compared to others.”
The performance metrics within SPT’s GameTraka analysis software provide insights on individual players, depending on their position and fitness condition.
“With experienced players or players returning from injury we analyse total distance and distances in high intensity zones. For explosive players, we check the number of sprints performed, maximum speed peaks and work zones at high intensity in order to develop the strength programs and recovery strategies corresponding to this profile of player. All of the GPS metrics are related to the RPE (rating of perceived exertion) regarding feelings and sensation post-match and post-training to make small adjustments day by day.”
For North Shore United, it was not only important for the coaching staff to embrace sport technology but also their players. “The introduction of GPS technology generated a very positive impact on all the players, having knowledge of so many individual factors allow them to constantly challenge themselves and drives them to improve day by day.”
“The most important thing was to educate the players with post-match and post-training feedback so that all the GPS data became meaningful each week, allowing the necessary changes and adjustments to be made to the personal-sensitive plan according to individual needs” adds Facundo.
The performance objectives of North Shore United continue to be raised by the technical staff and players game by game. The goal for the club was always to solidify their place within the Premier League and with their new performance culture, this is certainly being achieved and more impressively, they hold top spot with only a few games of the season remaining.
“We want and we will fight to the end to finish at the top, we have a lot of potential to do great things. We are a united team, which makes us strong”.