S&C

A Practical Guide to Introducing Athlete Monitoring

RYPT Team

[6-min read]

Athlete burnout, injury, and illness have always been an issue at all levels of sport (Schwellnus et al. 2016). Although the causes of injuries are highly complex and multifactorial, overtraining and lack of training load management have been proven to be major contributors (Piggott, Newton, and McGuigan 2009). Injuries are most likely to occur when athletes are:

  1. Undertrained / Unable to tolerate the prescribed workload
  2. Overtrained / With a high level of fitness but fatigued and in need of recovery time
RYPT-insufficient-recovery-leading-to-overtraining

Insufficient Recovery Leading to Overtraining

While injuries cannot be eliminated completely, the risk of injury can be reduced by introducing athlete monitoring to help your coaching team manage your athletes’ training load (Soligard T et al. 2016), (Gabbett 2016).

When implemented effectively, athlete monitoring can identify:

  1. Spikes in an athlete’s training load
  2. Excessive fatigue
  3. Whether or not the athlete has been exposed to training similar to the demands of their sport
RYPT-blog-introducing-athlete-monitoring-sRPE

Identifying Spikes in Training Load with RYPT

All of this provides your coaching team with actionable insights to allow them to adapt each individual athlete’s training load and recovery as necessary so that they can maintain peak performance levels, and are less likely to suffer injury or illness.

This blog provides a practical guide to introducing athlete monitoring in your organisation.

Introducing Athlete Monitoring Step 1 / Identify what metrics are important

The key to successfully introducing athlete monitoring starts with deciding what are the key metrics you are going to monitor that are most important in your context. To increase buy-in from athletes and your coaching team, simplicity is the key, so you don’t want to ask them to track anything that won’t truly have an that will have an impact on improving performance and reducing injury risk.

If you try to track too many things that aren’t relevant and used by the coaching team, it will lead to poor buy-in from athletes and coaches alike, and it won’t yield any useful data.

Introducing Athlete Monitoring Step 2 / Educate coaches and athletes

To maximise buy-in from the athletes and the rest of your coaching team it’s important that they know the ‘Why’ behind introducing athlete monitoring and that they’re comfortable with whatever system you’re going to use to do your monitoring.

Before rolling out the program it’s important to educate athletes and coaches as to why you’re doing this, and what’s in it for them. This should also be part of the induction process for any new athlete or coach into the organisation so that they understand the standards of the organisation and also the benefits of the program.

Coach education should include theoretical training on the monitoring methods you’ll be using, clear communication of how athlete monitoring will help them as coaches, and the athletes they’re coaching, and practical training on the system you’ll be using so they can efficiently access the data, understand how to interpret it, and be able to apply that to their coaching.

RYPT provides video training guides for coaches in the RYPT Trainer Academy.

Athlete education should include a simple explanation of what athlete monitoring is and how it will help them perform better and reduce their risk of injury, highlighting the risks of both overtraining and undertraining. It should also include training on the system you’ll be using so they can understand how and when they need to record their data to avoid any ambiguity leading to poor compliance.

RYPT provides video training guides for coaches in the RYPT App Academy.

Introducing Athlete Monitoring Step 3 / Put a system in place to track it

There are a couple of things that are absolutely critical to a successful athlete monitoring program:

  1. Compliance / Without it, your data will have limited value
  2. Time-efficiency / Coaching time and resources are usually stretched so any time-savings that can be made are extremely valuable
  3. Data security / If you’re collecting athlete data, you want to be sure it’s done safely and securely in a manner that’s compliant with GDPR

It’s possible to create your own athlete monitoring system with free tools like Google Forms/Sheets etc. However, this approach is less accessible for athletes which impacts buy-in and compliance; it’s time-consuming for coaches to set up, deliver to athletes, and generate actionable insights from, and; it’s not secure, leaving coaches and organisations open to challenges around the processing and storing of sensitive athlete data.


Athlete Monitoring with the RYPT app

RYPT’s athletic development platform removes all these barriers and helps coaches quickly and cost-effectively introduce an athlete monitoring program, with the confidence that athlete data is securely processed and stored with the consent of their athletes. So they can immediately start getting insights from their data to help them with the day-to-day management of the athletes’ training load.

Introducing Athlete Monitoring Step 4 / Implement a phased rollout

Rolling out your entire program at once is likely just to overwhelm your athletes and coaches and lead to poor buy-in and low compliance. A phased rollout is recommended by coaches in the world’s top organisations and is much more likely to be successful as it gives your athletes and coaches time to adjust and form habits, before building on that base.

Here is an example of a phased rollout but this can be adapted to fit your organisation’s context and needs:

RYPT-blog-Introducing-Athlete-Monitroing-Example

Introducing Athlete Monitoring: A Phased Rollout Example

Introducing Athlete Monitoring Step 5 / Use the data to make interventions and provide feedback

Too often coaches gather data with good intentions but don’t end up using it. If you’re going to ask athletes to submit data, it’s critically important that you follow through on that and use the data to make interventions to their training programs on an ongoing basis.

Each athlete will have a different response to the training program due to their fitness level, fatigue, and other lifestyle factors like nutrition, sleep, stress, etc. The data will identify this and opportunities to make adjustments to an athlete’s training program. It could be to reduce the volume or intensity if the athlete is showing signs of fatigue so that they maintain peak performance and are less at risk of injury. Or it may be to increase the volume or intensity if an athlete is showing signs that the program is too easy for them to avoid undertraining.

This should be referenced back to the goals of the training phase to make sure you are achieving the planned training effects.

RYPT-app-introducing-athlete-monitoring-injury-risk

Monitoring Injury Risk with RYPT

Communicating this to athletes is also an important part of the process, so they can see that the data they’re submitting is being used and is making a difference. This will further drive buy-in and athlete engagement in the program.

Introducing Athlete Monitoring Step 6 / Gather feedback from your athletes and coaches and refine

Finally, collaboration with your athletes and coaches is a powerful tool so you should regularly seek honest feedback from them and be open to adapting the program based on their suggestions. If you can successfully foster an environment based on open communication, honesty, and trust, you’ll see increased buy-in and commitment to the success of the team from both athletes and staff.

An effective athlete monitoring program can be extremely beneficial. It can help you ensure that your training program is having the desired training effects for each athlete, while also managing their training load to ensure they maintain peak performance and reduce their risk of burnout, injury, and illness. Rolling out an effective program has its challenges, but if you follow the steps outlined in this practical guide you will increase the chances of getting buy-in from your athletes and coaching team while driving an environment of honesty, openness and trust in your organisation.

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RYPT is a performance coaching platform designed to help multi-disciplinary coaching teams deliver athletic development programs efficiently at scale. RYPT helps coaching teams manage every aspect of their coaching relationship from the delivery of individualized training plans, to athlete monitoring and communication. RYPT centralizes athlete data to give coaches better insights and help them manage their athletes more efficiently and effectively – reducing injury risk and optimizing performance.

Over 2,500 coaches worldwide, working from grassroots to Olympic level, trust RYPT to deliver their athletic development programs and monitor their athletes. RYPT supports individual coaches, private gyms and academies, schools and universities, and large sporting organisations.

References

  1. Schwellnus M et al.: How much is too much? (Part 2) International Olympic Committee consensus statement on load in sport and risk of illness, Br J Sports Med 2016
  2. Piggott B, Newton MJ, McGuigan MR. The relationship between training load and incidence of injury and illness over a preseason at an Australian Football League club, J Aust Strength Cond, 17:4–17, 2009.
  3. Soligard T et al.: How much is too much? (Part 1) International Olympic Committee consensus statement on load in sport and risk of injury, Br J Sports Med 2016
  4. Gabbett TJ.: The training—injury prevention paradox: should players be training smarter and harder?,  Br J Sports Med, 50:273–280 2016.
Athlete Monitoring Performance Training Load Well-being

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