In the first installment of this series, Andrew Nelson discussed why accurate tracking of volume load is crucial when conducting sport science research. The previous post by Luke DeVirgiliis discussed how our program is initiating the transition to Bridge athletics. If you haven’t read these posts yet - scroll down to get caught up.
This post will expand on how our program accomplishes this research, provides evidence-based training to our athletes, and how Bridge Athletics helps us accomplish both of these tasks.
As a brief summary: for a sport scientist or coach working in high-level sport, quantifying training loads helps us understand why changes in performance occurred. This information provides a window into how to elicit beneficial changes in our athletes in the future.
Our program is responsible for planning and executing S&C with six hundred team and individual sports athletes. One of the foundational pillars of our program is athlete monitoring, which helps us provide a better service to the coaching staff and athletes, along with producing transformative sport science research. Let’s first give a general example of how we perform athlete monitoring in a long-term scenario:
(Oftentimes, testing is completed more frequently; nonetheless, this example provides a general overview of the process)
This system allows us quite literally to monitor performance changes over time in our athletes. Physical performance testing may include:
Between the testing sessions, it is essential to carefully quantify and track an athlete’s training. Bridge Athletic has included several functionalities that make this a much more time-effective, complete, and accurate process for our coaching and sport science staff. Some of these tools include:
In the old days, this work all had to be done by hand, taking considerable time, energy, and detracting from the important responsibility of actually coaching. Now, Bridge accomplishes this without our coaches giving it a second thought. Not only is it easier, but it’s also more accurate; yielding more valid data collection.
As the semester closes, we retest our athletes’ physical performance to track changes from the pre-semester baseline. Let’s say the results come in and scores have improved; great! The sports coaches are happy with their team’s enhanced athletic ability, meaning we’ve done our jobs as high-performance coaches. But it’s important to ask: why did they improve? As Andrew mentioned previously, a practitioner needs to apply the correct stimulus to create positive adaptation. By using Bridge Athletics, the Sport Scientist can look back and see exactly what quantity and mode of stimulus was applied. We can then learn what has worked, and use this information to empower our future training protocols.
On the other hand, what do we do when an athlete doesn’t improve? Tracking the training throughout the year can help us understand why the athlete did not improve. There’s a handful of factors to consider including:
Without monitoring, quantifying, and recording the athlete’s training, it would be impossible to figure out why we observed the long-term changes we did. Bridge takes out the guesswork in sport performance, by automatically tracking these metrics.
In addition to formal testing of performance at the beginning and end of a semester, it’s imperative to monitor performance continually throughout the year. This can be accomplished with weekly jump testing or weekly tracking of sprint or pitch velocity in practice. By comparing these sport specific performance metrics to the training being accomplished in the weight room, we can understand how athletes acutely react to training. We can use this information to acutely set the athletes up for success in season, by planning training that acutely increases physical capabilities immediately before important events or matches.
Needless to say, by carefully tracking training and response, a sport scientist can learn from training, and use this knowledge to improve training in the future. This method of monitoring also provides copious amounts of data that can be utilized to create powerful sport science research. This meticulous data collection doesn’t happen by accident, however. A tool such as Bridge Athletics greatly improves the practitioner’s ability to track all this information, with much less time and effort spent on busy work. It allows the practitioner to focus on what really matters, as they don’t have to spend excess time and energy on the collection; they can focus on using the data to inform their training programs.
Trader Flora, M.S., CSCS
Ph.D Student in Exercise Physiology
East Tennessee State University
Foster, C., Florhaug., Franklin, J., Gottschall, L., Hrovatin, L., Parker, S., Doleshal, P., Dodge, C. (2001). A new approach to monitoring exercise training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: National Strength & Conditioning Association. 15. 109-15. 10.1519/00124278-200102000-00019.
Stone, Michael & O'Bryant, Harold & Hornsby, Guy & Cunanan, Aaron & Mizuguchi, Satoshi & Suarez, Dylan & Marsh, Donald & Haff, Guy & Ramsey, Michael & Beckham, George & Santana, Hugo & Wagle, John & Stone, Meg & Pierce, Kyle. (2019). Using the Isometric Mid-thigh Pull in the Monitoring of Weightlifters: 25+ Years of Experience. 19-26.
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