He’s someone that you heard about a lot in the build up to the season. Erik Korem, the new High Performance coach at UK. Technically, he’s basically a Strength and Conditioning coach, and some institutions may think of what he does as just that. But he’s so much more than that. Using science and technology, Korem is tapping in to information that has never been used before in football, to help athletes reach their mental and physical peaks.
Here’s a blurb from an article that Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports did on him earlier this year:
“The athlete tracking device is the hub for gathering data,” Korem explains. “It uses GPS, accelerometers, magnetometers, gyroscopes and heart rate sensors to collect data. You can get information on biodynamics: speed, acceleration, impact, facing data (which direction the players are facing as they move: backpedal, moving right/left, etc.). In addition, you can get bioenergetic data: heart rate. (For more on this, Korem suggests exploring the catapults website.)
“Apart from athlete tracking we use Omegawave to gather data on athlete readiness by looking at heart rate variability, using ECG, and power output capabilities,” Korem said. “We can determine how prepared an athlete is to practice or play by using this technology.
“In regards to technology, we are also developing a massive database system that helps us monitor wellness through subjective feedback and we input data on physiological output to help create injury prediction models.”
All of this technology though, has done a lot more than just help players reach their peaks on the field, it’s also helped reduce injuries. According to Korem, the program had reduced soft tissue injuries “up to 90%” for the year. That’s phenomenal.
And we’re seeing it this year at UK. Outside of a few nics and cuts, it seems like guys at UK are staying healthier than any year I can remember (Knock on wood, as I realize that typing this now before the Alabama game may jinx everything. Time for anti-jinx). But seriously, I can not remember a year where so many starters were available every game it seems. There was an issue with Donte Rumph’s shoulder, but that stems back and actually predates Coach Stoops being here. Cody Quinn had a nagging ankle issue, though many speculated whether that was actually possibly a disciplinary issue. Bud Dupree had a strained pectoral sustained lifting weights, and Jason Hatcher broke a few bones in his hand. That’s been about it in the injury department.
This is extremely important at a place like Kentucky, that lacks a lot of depth to begin with. Having guys not miss time for nagging injuries like pulled hamstrings, or other pulled/torn muscles, keeps them on the field, and helps cover the fact that you don’t have many guys behind your starter.
Ultimately, getting through this stretch of games with as few injuries as we’ve sustained so far, might help make Erik Korem the MVP of the season.
Go Big Blue!