Wearable Performance Trackers Hit Amateur Athletics

Catapult Sports, a leader in sports performance analytics, has introduced team (non-pro) and consumer versions of its PLAYERTEK wearable tracking device; enabling amateur athletes to track and measure (distance covered, ground covered, speed etc.) their efforts during competition. Designed to help athletes improve performance, PLAYERTEK consists of a light-weight vest (worn on the upper back), a tracking “pod” with built in GPS technology and a series of smart sensors, and an IOS application offering analytics software. The team version is used by semi-pro football, lacrosse and soccer programs, while the consumer version is meant for amateur competitive soccer and football players.

Howie Long-Short: Catapult Sports, publicly traded on the ASX under the symbol CAT, acquired PLAYERTEK in July for $3.49 million. On the same day, the company announced it had acquired XOS Digital (coaching, video technology) for $80.1 million. Catapult has a large client base within the professional ranks (i.e. AC Milan, New York Giants, Philadelphia Flyers), so acquiring PLAYERTEK gives the company a product (and presence) it can sell to amateur athletes. Full-year ’17 revenue was up 249% YOY (to $60.8 million), but the company still posted $13.6 million in losses. The share price is down 41% YTD.

Fan Marino: Functionality includes the ability to compare your results with others competing within the same game. While it sounds like a tremendous motivator, no one wants to finish last (particularly, if there is indisputable factual data proving it). As a self-admitted practice loafer, I’m thankful the technology did not exist when I was in youth sports. Those that want to push themselves can buy the tracking pod now for $199 (regularly $229); the vest is an additional $35.


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JWS published a story earlier this week discussing how the NFL has implemented the use of technology within the game of football. Premiership Rugby has also embraced the sports-tech revolution; with developments changing the way its coaches train players and analyze performance. Below are a few companies making an impact:

IMAX Corp. (IMAX) – Players utilize IMAX video booths to watch footage filmed from both “lamppost” cameras as well as drones. Video footage from training, matches and even individual player clips are available for viewing.

Catapult Group International Ltd. (ASX: CAT) – The OptimEye S5 GPS device is used by 10/12 Premiership rugby clubs. The handheld device is placed into a pouch on the back of each player’s shirt, processing thousands of performance related data points/second, including; distance, velocity and speed.

Vimeo (IAC) – Video application providing players secure access to private clips of training sessions.

Howie Long-Short: Vimeo is owned by InterActiveCorp (IAC), a media and internet company that owns 150+ brands including; Match Group (i.e. Tinder), HomeAdvisor and Dictionary.com. IAC recently posted Q2 earnings of $.74/share, easily beating estimates of $.50/share. The company posted revenues of $767.39 million in Q2 ’17, up 2.9% YOY.

Fan Marino: Rugby teams aren’t the only ones using the CAT OptimEye S5. Brazil’s 5x World Cup Championship International Soccer team, the defending NBA Champions (Golden State Warriors) and at least a dozen NFL teams, also use the GPS system to track player performance.

How GPS, drones, and apps are revolutionizing rugby


The NFL is getting smarter, as its teams and players embrace the recent explosion in digital health & athletic performance applications. Here at JWS, we look to put the companies (that you can invest in) behind those applications on your radar.

Zebra Technologies (ZBRA); Catapult (ASX:CAT) – Both companies track the movement of players during games, providing next generation stats based on location, speed and acceleration. ZBRA places radio frequency identification tags on each player and receivers around a stadium, then triangulates the position of the tags. CAT uses GPS and accelerometers to determine location and movement.

Sparta Science – Strength tool used to measure the force a player applies to a plate in the ground as he jumps (i.e. the push off). Qualcomm Ventures (QCOM) is among their investors.

STRIVR – Developed a virtual reality system that runs players through practice reps. BMW (ETR: BMW) i venture is among their investors.

Kinduct – Intel (INTC) backed data management company, that converts data into actionable insights; recently partnered with Zebra Technologies.

Howie Long-Short: The NFL has its own private equity arm, 32 Equity. The firms most recent investment was in Blue Star Sports, the Jerry Jones backed sports technology provider. The investment capital will be used to fuel technology acquisitions that enhance the youth sports experience and foster youth sports participation.

Fan Marino: STRIVR was developed at Stanford and first used by David Shaw’s team during the 2014 season. Kevin Hogan was the first QB to use the technology. If you’ve never seen STRIVR in action, check out this 30 second clip!

NFL Technology: What’s New for the 2017 Season