Catapult PLAYR SmartCoach

by Sam Draper

June 13, 2018

Catapult Launches PLAYR, A Wearable with AI-Enabled SmartCoach

Catapult Sports, a leader in sport technology, has released its latest wearable, PLAYR aimed at sub-elite soccer players.

Catapult built the device exclusively for athletes. Amateur players normally do not have the knowledge or resources to make use of advanced information. With PLAYR, the wearer becomes the sole analyst, providing greater importance to game metrics.

“When we engineer or manufacture a product at the elite level, we sell to a team, and our main users are the staff—the strength and conditioning, performance or fitness or medical staff,” said Benoit Simeray, CEO, Consumer Division, Catapult Sports. “We had to put the player at the very center of what that system would be.”

The sleek hardware pod of the PLAYR is slipped into a pouch between the shoulder blades of an accompanying vest. The GPS records up to 1,200 movements per second at an accuracy within one meter. Sprint speeds, heat maps, distance along with the essential workload metrics of training intensity and volume are displayed in the app.

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For the athlete who train themselves, Catapult acts as a coach providing training insights through an AI program in the app.

“Very much the hero of PLAYR is the SmartCoach,” Simeray said, “and the SmartCoach is an extension of our sports science knowledge at the professional level for the last 12 years.”

Catapult PLAYR SmartCoach

SmartCoach employs expertise of elite sport scientists and offers advice tuned to the soccer player’s gender, age, position, and training schedule.

While the list of coaches will get bigger with time, the first generation of the product includes input from Tony Strudwick, the head of performance for the Football Association of Wales (and formerly in that role at Manchester United); Matt Reeves, the head of fitness and conditioning for Leicester City FC; and Chris Barnes, a soccer performance consultant with more than 20 years of experience in the English Premier League.

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The second tier of Catapult’s three-tier growth strategy is to reach the prosumer, or sub-elite, a category of highly engaged players.

Catapult entered the market with its acquisition of PlayerTek in 2016. CEO Joe Powell said last year that his company used the technology “as a sandbox” to create an upgraded iteration, PlayerTek by Catapult.

Simeray said there are roughly 50 million soccer players registered with FIFA worldwide, of which Catapult is initially targeting the most advanced amateur players (about 4 million).

Catapult is accepting pre-orders from the U.S. and the company said shipping will start later this month. PLAYR is being sold in the UK and Ireland for $265.