- On July 19, 2016
Do we have a consensus agreement on how to measure training load? The short answer is NO, and most likely we never will. Sport Science is an art with simple data to correlate; there are no fixed answers. That’s why you’ve got a job. You can combine ‘x’ amount of variables by athlete, group of athletes, sports, gender and present a formula that you believe works best for your players.
Like anything in life, if you show results then people will think that you have the right combination of test, training, load, game speed and recovery. In reality, let’s be honest, there are few people that claim they’ve got injury prediction algorithms. As a professional I have to say, people want to hear what they want. The clever minds that I know we have in our field, understand that it takes more than just formulas and equations to predict injuries. Therefore, if you want to be commercially guided then you know which sport science company you need to listen.
A few weeks ago we attended the Training Load 2016 conference in Qatar hosted by the Aspire Academy and based on some comments and private discussions we’ve got some questions and discussions for others to comment on and enrich the current applied science knowledge.
- What is Training Stress Balance? Do people in the industry know its benefits?
- Can you compare Weight Training Load; Game, Training, Psychology, Recovery and Skills Load?
- Should we consider “external load”, if so what are the benefits? What should I do with this data? Is it relevant?
- If you’ve got low budget and very minimum people to help. What you should do? You have a low budget for Technology (Velocity training, timing gates, GPS, Athlete Management System, and the like). What answers do you need for your organization that you can gain without any budget for technology?
Answers (In reality, comments):
- TSB = Training stress balance (how hard does this week compare to the previous four). TSB can apply to anything. Some important variables that good teams collect, train, prescribe and analyse: a) Number of decelerations in Zone 5 and 6 AND when the athlete decelerate at 4 m/s or more. Key note here is how do you train and prescribe training? You need a GPS tech to do this analysis. b) RSI thresholds vs CMJ. c)Velocity based training threshold. d) External load. e) Quality of sleep vs muscle soreness vs # of accelerations on game day (Zone 5&6)
- The typical RPE x Duration equation runs into problems when you want to sub-categorize game, skills, endurance, recovery sessions and most importantly when Strength and Conditioning sessions enters the equation. In our view, you cannot mix them to get an overall load number. In fact, Weight room load is easily measurement by Tonnage and this can be good enough to get an overall TSB figure whereas Training Load can be way more complicated to analyze.
Some people at the Aspire conference highlighted some topics.
- Would it be more efficient if you take a session, let’s say 60 minutes , and ask the players every 15 minutes their RPE and then average it?
- Would it be better if we only count the minutes that the players reached their threshold, VO2 Max and Anaerobic sessions only.
- Brain load: how can we measure it? How would this then impact athlete performance?
- I’ve personally been on the road for 6 weeks in Europe visiting professional clubs all over. I have asked this question to all of them. I can’t tell you the name of my clients or potential ones but what I can say is the fact that 95% of them ignore this data. They consider it irrelevant, very difficult to quantify, rejections from player, etc. Are they interested in this type of data? Most of them yes, but numerous restrictions might apply. Professional athletes are not special military personnel and / or very ill people in which compliance (to what?) is very high for obvious reasons. I have also look at the literature and can find every little evidence of their practicality and how this contributes to athlete performance.
Questions we would like to raise on this matter.
- What kind of activities your athletes do? Playing FIFA for 4 hours or Call of Duty, gardening, painting, music?
- If they play video games at home? For how long? Professional athletes are competitive therefore would this activity overload their stress levels? Would they improve performance playing Call of Duty (“killing people for 2 or 3 hours”)
- Would clubs look at investing in Painting classes, music activities, and / or reading skills?
- How do you balance external load vs boranes?
- 4. You need to start with a question. Anyone in our field should start with a specific or general questions you want to solve.
- RPE x duration for game days and training days (keep it simple – no technology needed)
- Total Value Gym load (Tonnage will give you enough data – no technology needed)
- Two of our best subjective data points to collect: Muscle soreness, location of the soreness, some information about sleep (quality or quantity) – no technology needed
- Keep some data related to external load. It can be as simple of what kind of activities your athletes do.
These are the areas in which you can gather the best data without technology that I believe you can collect, analyze and report back to your athletes and coaches that have some meaning to performance. It is up to you how you combine these data points to create some valuable algorithms per athlete or group of athletes. Remember all reports should be simple to explain to coaches and meaningful enough for your athletes to keep the compliance up.