August 29, 2023
The Kenai River Brown Bears are a team in the North American Hockey League (NAHL). Working closely with NCAA College Hockey, the NHL, the USHL, and USA Hockey’s National Development Program, the NAHL is an imperative piece in the development system for collegiate and professional hockey.
The Brown Bears wanted to begin to incorporate both sports science and data analysis into their decision making process—rare, if not unique among NAHL teams—and to do so, they turned to sports science and performance professionals, John Bryan and Candace Nakagawa.
A key component of their plans was the need to professionalize the team’s data collection, aggregation and visualization processes.
“RockDaisy enables us to use various quantitative and qualitative data sets in a way that made it easy for us to identify what is needed to help our athletes reach their full potential.”
— John Bryan & Candace Nakagawa, Co-Directors Sports Performance
RockDaisy’s robust data visualization platform allows hockey teams at all levels to incorporate NHL-style data insights for a team of 16-20 year olds. Those include:
- RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) metabolic testing (via Vo2 Master)
- Weight and nutrition metrics—weekly weight and calorie tracking
- VO2 Max + Moxy results
- Blood lactate testing
- Data from Woop, tracking player HRV values and sleep cycles.
- Hudl in-game metrics
RockDaisy enables The Brown Bears to establish baseline metrics across a range of variables, track when and how often players deviate from those baselines, and correlate those deviations to player performance.
“Centralizing and visualizing data in RockDaisy has really been eye opening, it’s is an absolute game changer.”
— Coach John Bryan
A Simple Solution
Bryan and Nakagawa first became aware of RockDaisy through social media. They liked that founders Chris Tanck and Elvis Pereymer have a Sports Tech background, building and running the NFL’s Data Analytics department for a combined 20+ years.
Most importantly for their needs, RockDaisy also has experience working with NHL sports science and strength & conditioning departments.
As the foundational piece to all of their player monitoring plans, the team wanted a simple data visualization solution, one that’s easily accessible and simple for players and coaches to understand. “We were looking for a solution that would allow us to dip our toe into the water when it comes to data collection and aggregation.”
RockDaisy’s streamlined user interface, combined with its point-and-click, drag-and-drop technology, means that anyone can easily aggregate and present data across dashboards and reports. This ease of use allows players and coaches to navigate the platform without the hassle of relying on a technology department.
“RockDaisy has been absolutely instrumental in helping us make cultural shifts in the way we’ve been doing things,” according to Coach Nakagawa.
Asking the right questions
“Getting under the hood with those kids in a way that makes them feel they won’t lose game time is tough,” explains Coach Bryan. “Their legs could be falling off in a bloody stump, and they’ll tell you they’re game ready.”
By letting the players access their own data, RockDaisy enables communication in a way that is broad and conversational, not an interrogation. “RockDaisy breaks it down, enabling us to ask questions like ‘what is the color of your urine in the morning?’”
Coach Nakagawa can explain that the question speaks to hydration and recovery, and actually show them the data via the RockDaisy platform. “That makes it more intuitive for them.”
RockDaisy enables Sports Performance teams to gather player information to a degree that would have been impossible through mere verbal communication.
“We are building a foundation for these young men, one that they can take with them when they go to college or advance towards the NHL. They can bring these ideas with them, that sleep, nutrition and hydration all have an impact on performance.”
Getting Buy-In from Coaches
Of course, integrating the data gleaned from the RockDaisy platform involves connecting with Brown Bears Head Coach Taylor Shaw and his assistant Dean Weasler and supporting their view of each player’s ability to compete.
Marrying both quantitative game metrics and qualitative player inputted data, allowed sports performance coaches to make recommendations as to which players may need additional recovery time.
“Our schedule can be very taxing on young athletes. We play upwards of 60+ games over 6-months, on and off-ice training, travel across multiple time zones and for many, the added pressure of continuing education. It all adds up and it’s not unusual to see the boys go through numerous dips in form over the season”
Using RockDaisy, the coaching staff have been able to track individual players’ load management and recognize its importance as a key driver in how a player performs.
“As we see players moving into a highly fatigued state, we will recommend adjusting an individual players training schedule to give, when required, additional recovery time. We believe that the net result for us last season was zero man-games lost to soft tissue injuries. A first for the team”.
“Overall, the insights RockDaisy provided and how we processed that information, helped our players finish the season strongly, contributing to a record win season and the play-offs.”
— Coach Candace Nakagawa
“There is so much data out there,” says Coach Nakagawa. “It’s a matter of teasing it all together to create a narrative that is easily interpreted and actionable.”
Data as a Crystal Ball
The Brown Bears use data stored in RockDaisy to quickly identify a players physical well-being. “Our ability to quickly spot any potential issues that can affect a player’s ability to perform, can be immediately fast-tracked to the team’s medical department headed by Dr Matt Pyhala. This was major selling point as to why the Brown Bears chose RockDaisy” explains Coach Bryan.“Our collective goal is to become the benchmark across all levels of junior hockey for player development and care. For that to happen, we needed a platform that had a very easy point of entry, was extensible as we developed our capabilities.”
“Perhaps most importantly though, has been the reaction of the players’ parents to how we use RockDaisy to monitor their children. We’ve had so much feedback from parents who tell us they love the fact that we ask their kids every day how they are. Every parent has said to us, ‘this is fantastic that you care about the kids.’”
About RockDaisy LLC
Built by sports data experts, RockDaisy’s superior Athlete Management System (AMS) provides a powerful competitive advantage to sports organizations throughout the NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAA, NAHL, NHSSCA and other elite sports leagues around the world. For more information, visit rockdaisy.com
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