Implementing an athlete monitoring program can be extremely effective in reducing injury rates and improving team synergy, collaboration and performance at all levels. However, it can also can be a waste of time and resources without the right focus, inadequate software tools and without a strong athlete and staff commitment.
This article includes tips and recommendations from experienced coaches, therapists and sports scientists. Please read on and learn how to implement a successful athlete monitoring program, and maximize buy-in from athletes, coaches and support staff.
KEY #1- ENSURE ATHLETES BUY-IN
- Make sure that the monitoring program is strongly encouraged by the team’s head coach and well accepted by team leaders
- Make sure that athletes understand the benefits they can derive from participating and complying to data entry (e.g.: better injury prevention, better adjustment of their training program based on their individual recovery needs and training response)
- Tell athletes who will access/view their data, and how coaches and staff will use their information
- Use a software/app such as AthleteMonitoring.com that allow quick and easy data entry via smartphone both online and off-line
- Make sure to collect only meaningful data that can be recorded in the minimal amount of time
- Help athletes establish a time each day when they do the reporting (before/after brushing their teeth)
- Show athletes how to add an AthleteMonitoring icon on the home screen of their phone (so it’s in their face a little more)
KEY #2 – ENSURE ATHLETE SUPPORT STAFF AND COACHES BUY-IN
- Make sure that at least one staff member is familiar with the athlete monitoring process and available to help other members with the interpretation of results
- Start by monitoring well-being using a simple daily questionnaire and then increase the scope of the monitoring program to include more detailed post training data.
- Make sure that the software synthesizes complex data into meaningful information
- Ensure that the software is very easy to use, cost-effective and allow staff on stay top of the issues without having to log in.
- Present the monitoring process as a key pillar of optimal athletic preparation and injury prevention
- Outline the cost/benefit of being on the system and the fact that investment in surveillance and prevention strategies such as Athlete Monitoring actually reduce the need for expensive medical treatment down the track and/or cut down lost training/game.
- When budgets are limited, remember that GPS and other wearable devices are measuring external load (ie: the work done) not well-being, stress, sleep and internal loads (the impact of the work on the athlete).
KEY #3 -ENSURE LONG-TERM USE
- Coaches must be willing and committed to trust athletes’ feedback and ready to adapt recovery, training and competition program when an abnormal recovery/training response is detected.
- When an athlete says ‘I am exhausted’ directly with a comment or indirectly through the monitoring system, coaches must be receptive and take steps to adapt training. If not, athletes will stop entering data.
- Athletes want their data entry effort be recognized and their comments taken into account in coaching decisions. If athletes’ issues and comments are ignored, they will stop to entering their data.
- Athlete data and reported information should be kept confidential at all time
- Athlete data should never be used to their detriment or to punish them
- Keep everything simple, meaningful and cost-effective for everyone
- Anna E. Saw: Monitoring athletes through self-report: Factors influencing implementation, Journal of Sports Science and Medicine 14, 137-146, 2015.
- Roos et al.: Monitoring of Daily Training Load and T raining Load Responses in Endurance Sports: What Do coaches Want? Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Sportmedizin und Sporttraumatologie 61 (4), 30–36, 2013.
- Saw A, Main L, Gastin P: Monitoring the athlete training response: subjective self-reported measures trump commonly used objective measures: a systematic review, Sept 9, 2015.
- Nick Illic, SportsCare And Physiotherapy Barton, Australia (personal communication, Nov. 2, 2015)
- Dave Balne, ChPC, Ontario Snowboard Club, Ontario, Canada (personal communication, Oct 29. 2015)
(c)2016, Francois Gazzano – firstname.lastname@example.org