A key development in sport over the last three decades has been the increased use of scientific methods to inform the preparation for and participation in elite competition.
Recent innovations have enabled teams to closely monitor athlete performance across all sessions and matches, facilitating a much deeper understanding of training methods that benefits athletes and coaches alike.
QUANTIFYING STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES
Given the unique physiology of each athlete, individuals naturally possess different strengths and weaknesses, as well as varying levels of potential to develop the key facets of their game.
By using scientific methods to objectively design and validate a monitoring program to complement an athlete’s training schedule, it becomes possible to measure progression relative to appropriate performance targets.
Today’s tracking technologies can monitor athlete performance in real-time and give individual feedback in relation to the aims of an individual session or the programme as a whole.
For example, Catapult technology has the capacity to deliver feedback both in real-time and post-session, enabling coaches to make performance decisions based on objective information. This approach helps maximise the safety and effectiveness of training sessions.
By enabling coaching staff to deliver comprehensive feedback to their athletes, monitoring technologies invariably spark dialogue around the implications the relevant data has for the performance of individuals or the team as a whole.
These conversations are opportunities for sports scientists and coaches to help their athletes better understand the meaning and application of key performance metrics. This educational process can in turn lead to improved training practice and encourage athletes to improve their self-management.
Physical training programs aim to make athletes more efficient in terms of internal:external ratios i.e. less stress for more output. In its simplest form, feedback to coaches should explain two things:
- How much work the athlete has performed
- How hard the athlete has worked
Two metrics which will address these questions are ‘volume’ and ‘intensity’. These are particularly useful metrics to use when introducing our technology to coaches, because they can relate directly to the questions above, particularly when data is fed back relative to a known quantity e.g. a match.
You could feed back that an athlete has completed 60% of a match at 80% of normal match intensity, and it will resonate with athletes and coaches. The complexity of the systems used to report volume and intensity can increase with the sophistication of the technology used.
There are three core sports science principles that apply when implementing wearable technology into a performance program:
- Overload: To precipitate improvements in performance, in a controlled way, athletes must be exposed to stresses in excess of that which they have been used to.
- Specificity: Athlete training programmes should contain large elements which mimic the movement demands, metabolic demands, technical and tactical requirements of the sport for which they are preparing.
- Individualisation: Don’t apply the same training stimulus to a squad of athletes and expect them all to respond in the same way!
- Reversibility: If you don’t use it – you lose it! Training effects are very quickly lost if training load is not adequate.
- Variation: If training programmes do not contain adequate variety, there is increased risk of physical or psychological staleness, illness or injury.