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UND football players wearing sensors to track workloads

Mar. 22—GRAND FORKS — UND football players have one more piece of gear to put on before practice this spring.

New Fighting Hawks strength and conditioning coach Derek Stein has the football players wearing intertial monitoring units (IMU) — sensors worn around the chest that the program will use to track the workload of the players.

That data can help the coaching staff, strength and conditioning staff and athletic trainers plan summer workouts and future practices.

"We're in research mode to see what kind of workload are our guys being put through at practice," UND head coach Bubba Schweigert said. "We're trying to monitor that, and that'll allow us and (Stein) to structure summer training to get ready for fall camp. We're in the early stages of collecting data. We're always trying to evolve and get better and this is one way we think we can do it. We have a strength coach who believes in it and has experience doing it."

Stein has been in Grand Forks for four weeks and one of his first moves was to explore the IMU usage.

The devices arrived while players were on spring break two weeks ago and were immediately implemented last week at practice.

Stein had previous experience with the sensors in his last stop at Eastern Illinois. New UND offensive coordinator Isaac Fruechte also has a background with the devices and was supportive of the expense.

The units are different than Stein used previously because UND practices (Pollard Center) and plays games (Alerus Center) indoors. The monitors will be worn during games, as well.

At EIU, Stein's teams used a GPS-based sensor but UND's indoor nature complicates the use of satellites to monitor a player's positioning.

In the future, it's possible UND could explore the ability to create a GPS-like environment within indoor settings. The current IMU sensors, however, will not act as GPS units and track things such as speed.

Stein will present data to UND's coaching staff on a daily basis.

Two primary data points will be total yards in distance accumulated at practice, as well as total load metric, which is an equation of acceleration and deceleration, as well as a measurement of jumps and impacts in all directions.

"It gives a ratio of low intensity, moderate intensity and high intensity," Stein said. "Right now, we're purely in a data collecting stage. What is normal for us? That gives me an idea when I start planning our spring and summer training. I can use that information to percentage out the yardages we need to hit on the field so I'm getting them prepared for the yardages and demands they'll face in practice at their position."

Stein said he can label the data according to a certain drill at practice, marking whether the drill was higher intensity or lower intensity. Then a staff can decide on a given day if players should see drills with high or low intensity.

"Usually, when we executed that well (at EIU), we saw higher spikes of output in load on game day," Stein said.