Terps strength and performance coach Kyle Tarp rarely leaves a stone unturned in his approach to getting the Terps men's basketball players to their optimal level of fitness and performance, and this summer he has taken it to even another level.
When longtime Terps men's basketball booster Harvey Sanders approached him about how he could help the program this offseason, Tarp quickly obliged.
"We have actually had a lot of advancements (this summer) in terms of technology in the weight room," Tarp said. "And he approached me with, 'Hey, what do we need?' And I told him, 'okay, I will tell you exactly what we need.'"
What Tarp already had his eye on was a new technology called Elite Form, which is a 3-D, infrared camera which attaches to each rack in the weight room, which the Terps now enjoy thanks to Sanders' generosity. Tarp explained the system like a kid on Christmas morning.
"So now when a guy does a squat or a bench or a traditional barbell movement, the cameras will actually track his movement. And not only if you get the weight up, but how you get the weight up?" Tarp said.
Wow indeed. Now it gives Tarp information on how fast the bar is moving/velocity, as well as a "wattage of power output" from the lifter on the bar.
"So now we can track long-term player development in terms of power production, and it makes it very competitive for the guys," Tarp said. "Now it's not just about benching 250 pounds, like Damonte (Dodd) versus Ceko. 'Yeah, you are benching the same weight, but Damonte did it at .07 meters a second and Ceko you are only at .55. So Ceko, you got to pick it up.' So now you got guys really, really going after the weight. It is a very cool piece of technology."
But it doesn't end there.
Additionally, Sanders' gift provided another new system, Sparta Force, which tracks how athletes load into the ground.
"So you have got athletes that move differently," Tarp explained. "Like Dez (Wels), he was very strong, he put a lot of force into the ground. But Jake (Layman) is more of an elastic type athlete, more of a bouncy ball athlete. So now we can identify what type loader they use, what type of loading pattern they use to create force and jump. And then based on that, we can build our training program around that."
Tarp said now if he has a player that lacks mobility or elasticity, he can add interventions to his program to enhance those areas. Or strength or core stability/poor transition "we can add some different breaking stuff to his program. So this technology has added real specified individual athletic needs for each athlete."
Both systems were pricey, and obviously go a long way towards not only current player development, but are attractive to recruits, etc, as the arms war continues in college athletics and beyond.
"It's the latest, greatest high-end technology that maybe only four or five programs in the country have both systems. And maybe only half the NBA," Tarp said. "So we are definitely on the cutting edge of technology."
Tarp said Kansas, Wake Forest and Arkansas are the others collegiately. He said the University of Houston has it for its entire athletic department.
"Yeah, you can't hide now, you can't hide now," Tarp joked of new technology/Big Brother/eye in the sky. "We're definitely getting after it."