University of Pennsylvania

User Story
upenn franklin field stadium
University of Pennsylvania
Director of Sports Performance
“We need a solution for stressors that they receive in both of those environments and the training that we’re providing. Perch allows us to do that."
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Getting Started with Weight Room Performance Monitoring and Perch

The University of Pennsylvania is an Ivy League school in the heart of Philadelphia founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1780. The following century, organized sport became a formal part of the university with a handful of competitive sports, and the construction of the Famous Franklin Field was completed in 1895. 

Fast forward to today, underneath Franklin Field sits the UPenn weight room, where every student athlete trains, and where every rack is outfitted with Perch. 

Says Director of Sports Performance, Cory Walts, “student athletes at Penn are dedicated to getting better everyday not only in the classroom but in the weight room as they achieve peak performance.” 

Ivy League Student Athletes are constantly under stress to perform their best, and without state of the art equipment and technology to keep up with them, it would be hard to provide the appropriate stimulus to optimize training.

UPenn Athletics utilizes various pieces of sports technology with different teams. From AMS programming software, to heart rate monitors, to GPS units, to VBT or weight room performance monitors. UPenn has always been an innovative cutting edge institution, and their motivation to use Perch is indicative of their continued commitment to their student athletes.

Implementing Weight Room Technology at UPenn

With over 400 student athletes coming through the weight room on any given day (and close to 1000 overall), UPenn performance coaches needed a scaleable solution that would be easy to implement with that many athletes. In the past, they had used accelerometers. But in their basement weight room they found disconnections were frequent, and devices were constantly out of commission.

With Perch, everything is mounted and out of the way. Athletes can walk in, login, and lift without any interruption to their existing workflow. With a unique gallery style weight room with 15 racks on either side, Penn Performance Coaches need to be sure they have eyes everywhere. And with technology, the amount of data seen and captured exceeds that of a single human.

Says Cory Walts, “[Athletes] want to be educated, they want to be inspired by the experience that the training provides, Perch allows us to do this by providing this data driven solution and leveraging this information that speaks to who they are on a given day.”

As an Ivy League School, it is incredibly important to acknowledge the student part of student-athlete. UPenn Performance coaches manage to do this by using the weight room as an extension of the classroom. Further education takes place here through teamwork, through technology and data, and through hard work and over coming adversity. 

The best part of an institution like UPenn? Everyone is in the mission together. From admin to performance coaches to sport coaches to athletes themselves. According to Cory Walts, “Perch is a testament to our administration's dedication to inspiring and educating our student athletes through optimal performance.”

More than anything, these student athletes have a unique amount of academic and athletic stress, and that needs to be considered when training. With technology like Perch helping auto regulate load and intensity rep to rep, athletes can train appropriately and thrive.

“We need a solution for stressors that they receive in both of those environments and the training that we’re providing. Perch allows us to do that.

UPenn Weight Room Culture

“Penn student athletes are extremely competitive. From the moment they had to apply to this school to the current moment where they’re competing, they want to be educated, they want to work hard, and they want to compete,” says Cory Walts. 

The unique archetype of student-athlete you get at an Ivy League school is conducive to weight room performance monitoring and data collection. The athletes are stressed, and if they can understand the why behind decisions performance coaches are making, they are more apt to abide by them.

“Everyday they come in here we’re trying to provide an experience where they are inspired, educated, and driven by data to improve their performance”

Assistant Director of S&C, Craig Turner, further elaborated by describing UPenn’s internal concept of assessment, intent & monitoring (A-I-M). “Having the ability to set targets helps us in engaging the athletes, have them approach an exercise with more intent and create a feedback loop process for decision within the training session itself.”

Further - they instituted an “integrated monitoring approach” which “many refer to as invisible monitoring, reducing the touch points needed on the athlete as its already integrated into their training sessions” This allows for less testing, more training, and continual assessing to make real time decisions.

“Penn and the Ivy league is the intersection between peak performance and peak academic stressors.” - Cory Walts

UPenn Tips and Tricks

  • Technology isn’t scary! Student athletes are tech savvy these days, and the ones that are craving data driven solutions to their performance are extremely analytical, they will gravitate towards this.
  • Educate them in your classroom. The weight room is your classroom, these athletes want to be taught and stimulated and educated throughout their experience. Use this technology as a teaching tool for performance, stress monitoring, fatigue, nutrition, hydration, bring it all together!
  • Nurture the competitive spirit. Athletes - and especially student-athletes at a competitive educational institution - are ready to compete at all times. Nurture that and let them run with it. They’ll impress you more than you realize, and technology can help level the playing field and set it free.
  • Recruit! The years of Ivy Leagues not being known for athletics are past us. Ivy’s are competitive and have ample opportunity to bring more student-athletes to the table. Use technology to help recruit them.

two people analyzing perch data on a computer

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