Training in sport, as defined by German sport scientist Dietrich Harre, is “the physical, technical, intellectual, psychological and moral preparation of an athlete by means of physical exercises, i.e., by applying workloads.” (Harre, 1982). Managing these workloads, or training stressors is of principal importance to the sport preparatory coach or scientist for effectively designing, implementing, and/or monitoring a training program (Haff, 2010). In the sporting context, this is primarily done through the systematic manipulation of volume and intensity across the yearly training plan. Practitioners may then retroactively analyze how the current training stressors correspond with the previously performed loads or loads that were planned. Whichever method one chooses to quantify the training load, it is objectively important to the performance coach and sport scientist to accurately track this data to optimize athlete preparedness. However, the importance of quantifying an athlete’s workload extends beyond just the optimal implementation of training. Accurately recording and reporting the training load is equally important for researchers within the field of sport science (Haff, 2010). Such research is continuously published by the Exercise and Sport Science Laboratory here at ETSU, an internationally recognized leader in the field. Graduate students working in this lab have the unique experience of conducting extremely ecologically valid research on high-level athletes while simultaneously undertaking the preparatory training for these athletes.
Serving as the strength coach, sport scientist, and researcher, graduate students within our program are responsible for designing, delivering, and monitoring the training of our athletes under the supervision of the lab director and director of the Center of Excellence for Sport Science and Coach Education (CESSCE) Dr. Michael Stone and Meg Stone, respectively. Additionally, these students are tasked with using this data to conduct transformational research in the field of sport science. Using the knowledge gained from our studies, my peers and I are expected to take a research-based approach to design training for our athletes. However, like most performance coaches, this is where the fulfilling work of designing training ends and the tedious work of visualizing and monitoring these training programs begins. In the past, concerning designing and monitoring training, this has been done using software such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Most within this field are extremely familiar with these programs and would agree that the flexibility they offer in designing, delivering, and monitoring training is most excellent. Unfortunately, most would also likely agree that this process can be extremely time-consuming, tedious, and often a substandard approach to visualizing large datasets associated with athlete monitoring and research. Once these training programs are executed, we are then tasked with inspecting and recording all training loads and intensities for monitoring and research purposes. While extremely important to the work that we do, again, this is an extremely time-consuming and tedious process. Fortunately, due to our new partnership with BridgeAthletic, this will no longer be the case.
BridgeAthletic (BA) offers cutting-edge strength and conditioning software geared towards the most effective and efficient planning, delivery, and tracking of training programs with seamless integration of data into our research repository. Their platform makes for systematic collection of data on external training load, internal training load, performance testing, subjective wellness, etc. more efficient than ever. Furthermore, due to their easily accessible mobile application, BridgeTracker, our graduate students can effortlessly plan and prescribe training to their athletes. The first step towards integrating BA into our was learning the ins and outs of the software. Senior Customer Success Manager at BridgeAthletic, Megan Watson, saw to this by conducting a detailed onboarding demonstration with select graduate students that was later disseminated to all our coaches. Our scientific approach to training meant we needed to ensure the software would work for what we do, and this session was extremely valuable in navigating the way toward actualizing that. Since then, we have set up automated data transfer from their platform to our data management system, smartabase. BA quickly set up the API between the two platforms in the background allowing for hands-free delivery of data to our research repository for future research and data visualization. Additionally, we began the process of acquiring tablets for the weight room so coaches can easily deliver and monitor training on the floor by taking full advantage of BA’s mobile application for coaches and athletes. Finally, while BA is preprogrammed with thousands of training templates and exercises, we needed to begin creating an exercise library specific to ETSU. This is extremely relevant to our research-based approach to training as it ensures our coaches are all speaking the same language and allows for improved continuity when conducting research within our field.
There is much to come from our implementation of BridgeAthletic. As it stands, BA will become fully integrated by all our coaches come Fall of 2022. Stay tuned for updates on how we're using BA to improve our performance coaching and sport science research. For more information on the partnership opportunities and possible research conducted by our laboratory using BridgeAthletic please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrew Nelson, MS, CSCS
ETSU Olympic Sports Performance Coach and Weight Room Supervisor
Doctoral Student, Sport Physiology and Performance
East Tennessee State University
Haff, Guy. (2010). Quantifying Workloads in Resistance Training: A Brief Review. Prof. Strength and Cond.. 10. 31-40.
Harre, D. (1982). Principles of sports training: Introduction to the theory and methods of training.
These data were collected from the 2018 Youth National Championships in Michigan and permission for sharing results was granted by USAW. The file below contains data from countermovement jumps (CMJ) performed on a jump mat.
Study Description: The CMJ testing was conducted with a jump mat (Probotics Inc., Huntsville, AL USA). Each weightlifter provided two trials with maximum effort while holding a PVC pipe on the back of the shoulders. Countermovement jump heights (CMJH) from the two trials were then averaged as a performance score for each weightlifter.
ICC (two-way mixed with absolute agreement for single measurement) = 0.983
Standard error of measurement = 1.36cm
by Alex Wetmore, CSCS
By Mike McCullough BS, USAW-1, ACSM-CPT
This past summer I experienced a taste of my dream job working in the NFL as a temporary employee in the strength and conditioning department for the Oakland Raiders. I had several roles for the staff and the team, as the Raiders strength and conditioning staff are fully committed to facilitating a high performance environment. My roles were emphasized and deemphasized according to the changing training periods. We were in organized team activities in the early summer, which was the height of off-season training. I started off with the typical intern duties; setting up the weight room for lifting sessions and cleaning after, but quickly picked up on the expectations for all of our responsibilities. Early I was in charge of the performance nutrition program, making sure every player had access to our performance snacks at optimal nutrient timing windows.
As soon as I learned the names of all 90 players, I progressed to getting real NFL coaching experience in the weight room. I helped improve their technique in weightlifting derivatives, warm-ups, and movement sessions, and explained their importance whenever possible. The middle of the summer was somewhat slower. During this time I had several small research projects that looked into the potential effectiveness of different training and monitoring devices.
Towards the end of the internship we were in training camp, where the intensity of the whole organization picked up as the season drew closer. I balanced the responsibilities I had been gaining over the internship, while adding new ones. I started to run several of the team’s athlete monitoring programs, including GPS tracking, body composition trends, and hydration status. Running a GPS system for 90 men during 2-a-day practices, 5-6 days a week, with 2 lifting days on top proved to be an exciting challenge. It was all worth it, because as a team we built a database combining all of our training load data and physiological markers into one file that will allow the Raiders to track trends, and get a better idea how each player’s stress affects their ability to perform. The staff can track and analyze this data in a clear and timely manner, so they can share it with the football coaches and change how the team conducts practices and training to truly maximize effectiveness.
I felt very prepared to excel in the internship thanks to what I had learned in only two short semesters at ETSU. I understood that we needed to promote an atmosphere that allows every player every chance of being the most successful. Whether it was lifting instruction, or education on proper sleep and nutrition habits, we were there to do anything possible to help the athlete reach their peak. What I learned most was how to apply my skills among a group of outspoken, big, and strong, grown men. I learned to sell how our training and monitoring, and how it would help each individual perform their best on the field. My tactics varied with each individual, but it was a fun challenge building relationships with the team and trying to individualize my communication to be most effective with each of them.
When I graduate, I want to work in a very similar setting with a highly competitive college or professional football team. Working with such a large group in my favorite sport, with all the pressure as well as all the support, was an amazing experience and really brought the best out of me.
By Mark Swartz, BS, CSCS
I completed my internship at the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, FL this past summer. I assisted in leading dynamic warm-ups and fitness sessions. The full-time tennis students trained in the weightroom, including plyometric exercises, lower/upper body lifts during the time when the camp students completed basic strength and movement training on court. I learned not only how to structure workouts to include mobility and injury prevention exercises, but also how to train younger students that are pre-pubescent. For those athletes, we did basic movement patterns to improve mobility and range of motion to set them up in proper hitting positions, and prepare them for loading when they are older. Overall it was a wonderful experience and I look forward to applying what I learned to my work back at ETSU
Interested in the archive from our old site? Click Here