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.
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