Athlete Monitoring using elite Technology – What is it and why is it important? Part 1

These days we often hear team managers talking about Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) rather than just results. It maybe seen as a defensive position after a poor result but the indicators themselves can give good guidelines on how well teams  and athletes are doing.

The identification of these indicators comes from the use of technology and scientific methods to inform the preparation for and participation in elite competition. Basically its the use of new equipment and technology like the GPSports EVO and the Catapult Optimeye S5 below to monitor and mange athletes.

While not everyone has everyday access to these elite sources of technology, regular testing of your training and its components can lead to great benefits. the key maybe down to testing and retesting the right components.

 

In this series we are going to look at tracking using KPI’s more suited to injury prevention and rehabilitation can help every athlete of all levels

KPI’s don’t assure you success in your sport but they can be used to highlight if you are physically at your best / reaching your best and if your training is going as well as it should.

The Key Performance Indicators change from sport to sport and also can be position or athlete specific depending on targets and injury history. However there are some key elements or principles that can be assessed across many sports to get a picture of how well you are doing.

  1. Running Symmetry – how much load you put on each leg during running
  2. Joint Mobility and Range of Motion
  3. Technique
  4. Accessory / gym programming

The benefits of using KPI’s include

  1. Injury Risk Reduction
  2. Objective Goal Setting
  3. Identify and MEASURE both strengths and weaknesses
  4. Rehab Management

Lets start with Running Symmetry and see how this can help 

Running Symmetry 

Running Symmetry / Balanced running – each leg doing an equal amount of work. The balance is never 50/50 but if you have less than a 3 – 4% imbalance this is fine. Monitoring this balance throughout your training will help identify risks before they happen.

Below we see 2 examples of running symmetry monitoring . The running symmetry variable shows a Left / Right % which indicates how much a player relies on each leg during running.

While this shows an overall picture and only one player (Player 1 in the Top Table) we can break down the analysis further and for different sports.

We can look at –

a. Different speeds or distances and whether an athletes is more reliant on the dominant leg at higher speeds or over longer distances. This is useful runners increasing their mileage for an event. Too much of an increase for a particular distance would suggest that instead of increasing the distance again the over the coming weeks as many training plans suggest you may be more successful at repeating that distance again so that you know you are not overly stressing the dominant leg

b. Change of direction imbalance. Many players tend to turn quicker off one leg but identifying if this is due to a weakness on the non dominant leg or a gap in their training will provide a training tool to develop a better player.

c. Training and recovery. Recently its been identified that reducing training intensity too much prior to an event has led to more injuries. If we extend this to our training preparation it may be worth identifying how well an athlete responds to training stresses when particular sessions are put back to back.

The example below shows the response of one athlete when doing their long run 1 or 2 days after their weekly tempo session.

While their pace and times didn’t show any variance their response to the lack of recovery suggested that this athlete would be better spacing their running sessions better.

The benefits of this are that for runners we can identify

  1. Ideal running pace for different training sessions (tempo, repeats or long runs)
  2. Distances to be run during mileage increase. Doing more than you are able to manage may put too much stress on your dominant leg. Knowing when you start to rely more on that leg gives us a better control of how much mileage we can do.
  3. Terrain. Doing hill or cross country may highlight an increased dominance compared to flat / road running. It may be an increased stress you don’t need to reach your goals

In Part 2 we will look at Joint Mobility and Range of Motion and see how this affects training

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