Sports organization profiled: USTA National Training Center Headquarters

Location: Orlando, FL (USA)

Background: 2017 was the year USTA National Campus in Orlando was built. The USTA Player Development unit has been created to identify and develop the next generation of American champions by surrounding the top junior players and young pros with the resources, facilities and coaching they need to reach their maximum potential.

Here is the video interview we did there in December 2021 at the USTA Player Development Center in Orlando, Florida, with Satoshi Ochi, the head of strength and conditioning coach. In this video Satoshi gave us a quick tour of his facility, and talked about the types of technologies (e.g. Kinexon’s real time tracking solution, Plantiga’s smart insoles, Polar H10 HR monitorPlaySight’s on-court video analysis, AMS (Athlete Management System) mobile app, etc..) he uses to help improve players’ fitness and prevent injuries.

Video: Upside Global, USTA, December 2021.

In addition here is a another quick Q&A with Satoshi Ochi, the head of strength and conditioning coach at the USTA, to discuss his favorite technologies, the challenges he faces as a S&C coach, and so on.

Q1. What are your favorite technologies?

SO: Well, at this moment, timing gates and heart rate monitor are two technologies that I use the most.  Human eyes and good communications are still my favorite.

Q2. As a head of strength and conditioning coach at the USTA, what are your biggest challenges when taking care of players? Load management? Sleep improvement? Performance improvement? Where do you think technologies can help?

SO: Holistic approach of athletes care.  We have experts on the each area of athletes’ performance.  As strength and conditioning coach, my job is to improve and maximize athletes’ strength and conditioning levels.  However, our ultimate goal is to develop the best tennis players in the world.  Tennis players performance will not be maximized by just strength and conditioning.  So we need to work together with tennis coaches and other performance team members.  We need to monitor and understand athletes’ workloads, sleep, mental, nutrition, etc.   I think that technologies can help making holistic approach more efficiently and effectively.

Q3. When looking to adopt new technologies, what are the most important criteria for you? Using a technology that fits into the players’ workflow? Using a product with great customer support and analytics? Using a product that is affordable? All of the above? Why?

SO: All of the things that you mentioned here is very important.  I would also add accuracy and reliability.  However, the most important criteria for me is that the technology is “ready to use”.  We would like to spend as little time as possible to set up and learn the technology before we actually use and utilize with our programs and athletes.

Q4. In the world of wearables, we have seen continuous improvements with more advanced sensors capable of measuring hydration, electrolyte, HRV, Blood pressure…? What is your take on that? How relevant is it to your sport?

SO: Our athletes have to play in hot and humid environment.  Also, our center is in Central Florida where the summer heat is brutal.  Therefore, proper hydration is very important for us.  If there is anything that we can easily apply and monitor or check our athletes’ hydration level, I will be very interested.   Athletes’ readiness and recovery are other things that we would like to monitor and check if possible.  I think that HR, HRV, Blood pressure, etc., there are several things that have potentials.

Q5. If you had unlimited resources to build any technologies that you wanted, what would you build? Why?

SO: A device that is able to measure athletes’ passion and resiliency.  I believe that these are the two most important characteristics that will give athletes competitive edge.  Without them, it does not matter how much other technologies provide valuable information to the coaches and athletes.  If you have a passion in the sport you play and resilience, you will try to do everything possible anyway…that includes some data analysis and monitoring that requires some technologies, which are probably currently available or soon to be available.

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