In this post I will highlight how I used athlete monitoring software during a competitive collegiate season with a women’s soccer program. Before we get started I will explain the purpose of athlete monitoring. For those of you familiar with athlete monitoring, feel free to skip to the next section.
The developer of the software we used [Fit for 90] claims that athlete monitoring is “science driven knowledge that improves your game”. Moreover, they add that athlete monitoring can prevent injuries, increase performance and optimize training.
As a coach the primary goal in using the athlete monitoring software was to optimize training. In optimizing training, it would allow for increased performance and in theory “prevention” of injuries.
I’ve added quotation marks for the prevention of injury as I believe this claim is made solely for the marketing and promotion of the athlete monitoring software. While I do believe athlete monitoring can reduce the likelihood of overuse injuries (common in preseason), to say that it can prevent injuries seems like a mistaken claim.
How does athlete monitoring software work?
The athlete completes a simple, scaled five question survey each day. The five questions relate to fatigue, soreness, mood, stress and sleep quality.
For example, the respondent is asked to rate their sleep as being very restful, restful, fairly restful, neutral, fairly restless, restless or very restless.
The responses for each of the five questions below are collected and put through an unknown algorithm that breaks down a readiness score for each athlete. A higher readiness score indicates greater readiness of an athlete while a lower number indicates that the athlete may not be in peak physical conditioning at the current time. FYI, the head coach of the team always sought a number of 85 or greater on game day.
The photo above is an example of the dashboard that I could view each day. This example provided was the morning after a game. In this case, players are ranked according to their readiness scores.
To provide a simplistic overview, each athlete was grouped with a color. Fit For 90 provided three main colors; red, yellow and green. Seeing the color red is cause for concern, while a green color meant that the athlete is an optimal state.
We know that no two athletes will respond in the exact same manner to a training session. In viewing the team average readiness score during preseason we were able to see if the training session met its intended goal. After a tough fitness session we would expect to see a drop in readiness scores the following morning, while we would likely expect the reverse if we planned a low intensity recovery session.
Is Athlete Monitoring Helpful?
While I was around the team for every training session and game, there were a number of sessions where I got to a training session just 15-20 minutes before it started. Yet, I was still able to receive a brief overview of how the team was feeling for that day. In this sense, the athlete monitoring software was incredibly helpful.
However, I realize this service is not free and can be an expensive resource for a number of teams, schools or clubs. If you have a lot of time around athletes prior to their scheduled training session, asking a simple question like how are you feeling today? will likely provide you with some of the same answers.
A Grain of Salt…
As with all self-reported data, true and honest self-reporting is imperative. In the photo above I have compared two athletes that play in the same position and played about the same for the entire season. As you can see, the readiness score for the green athlete varies widely, while the black athlete has more of a uniform line. By mid-September, the black athlete seemed to have responded very similarly to each of the five questions they are asked every morning.
Is this pattern a co-incidence or is this the result of the athlete realizing that their responses each morning potentially had a factor in their training sessions and playing time prior to mid-September? Certainly food for thought- I’m interested in hearing your perspective.