USC Football Looks to Find Physical, Mental Advantages


USC football’s biological monitoring system is helping Adoree’ Jackson find mental and physical advantages.

This time last year, the big talking point around USC football’s offseason was the use of the Catapult GPS tracking system.

Described as a dashboard for a car — a means to know how your machine is performing — Catapult is a biological monitoring system capable of tracking everything a player does, from heart rate, speed, distance, acceleration, deceleration and explosiveness.

If you’ve watched any USC Athletics hype videos leading up to the season, you’ve certainly seen the tracking bibs players wear during workouts.

The system was developed in Australia as part of the country’s efforts to get more out of it’s Olympic athletes and was adapted to also help teams from football and other sports around the world.

Though it was Steve Sarkisian who brought the program to USC, Clay Helton’s staff has continued to use whatever resources they can to get the Trojans in shape for the coming season.

“They’ve got some different type of technology out there,” said Adoree’ Jackson of Australian strength coach Danny van Dijk, who has been running him through drills this summer aimed at helping his recovery time within games.

“Let’s say [the offense] gets a three-and-out and I gotta get right back on the field,” Jackson said. “We try to figure out how I can get my heart rate back down to normal so I’m ready to go at full speed.”

That involves getting his heart rate to peak, then stopping and slowing it down as quickly as possible by breathing and focusing on relaxing. Jackson said he was able to lower his heart rate considerably in just over a minute, but had only just begun the training.

“You have to get into yourself and focus on really trying to slow it down,” said Jackson. “It’s a mentality thing.”

The mental side of a physical game has been an emphasis for the Trojans this offseason, Jackson said he could see it even in the limited time he spent around the time while focusing on track.

The coaches have focused on getting the players comfortable in their systems and with themselves.

“They’re giving us a lot in our arsenal. They’re trying to perfect each one at a time and let us know that you get to choose whichever one you want to do and whichever one you’re best at, do it,” said Jackson. “They’re just building up our confidence.”

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Nothing builds confidence like feeling physically capable, and Jackson credits his track detour with giving him more to work with on the football field.

The Catapult system clocked him at 24 mph when he blazed past the Notre Dame defense on an 83-yard score — though he doesn’t feel like he was going that fast.

His best guess to account for such speed, aside from faulty equipment, is the refinement of his running ability on the track.

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“The speed is different that I have. I know the technique of running and how to run,” Jackson said. “When you’re an athlete, you just go out there and run. You can just be gifted and faster than everybody.”

Now, though, Jackson really knows how to run, which is a scary thought for opposing defensive coordinators.

Learning the technique of breathing and relaxing his body will be another weapon he’s added to his arsenal since arriving at USC.

Whether or not that training makes a difference for him, Jackson doesn’t plan to let it show too much.

“I do get tired,” Jackson admitted. “But I never show it.”