Player monitoring is growing in professional sport, but many teams are realizing that not all physiological readiness products work as promised. Even the ideal system may not work as well as advertised, and coaches are left wondering what to believe. What makes our blog unique is that we proudly display data of real athletes, something our competition struggles to do. The reason we openly share player scores? Athletes believe in the system and commit to using CHECK™, and we work with teams and coaches to ensure our system is deployed properly. Coaches are starting to figure out that if a blog or online article shows no data, it’s likely the system is not being used, and marketing is driving interest, not usage.
Ice Hockey is a grueling professional sport, with competition schedules that can be extremely fatiguing for players participating in any league. A common issue with professional hockey is dealing with dead or heavy legs, and coaches are perplexed with knowing the optimal training regimen to keep the players prepared for a long season. Daily use of the CHECK™ -system over a season with our Hockey players reinforced our beliefs on what works and what is marketing hype. In this blog article we are proud to define what we know works and what is simply a sales pitch.
The first step in making informed decisions is getting the players to provide the staff data daily. Daily collection of data increases the effectiveness of training and we see a major leap forward with CHECK™ and teams. Athletes feel that the scores represent their freshness and coaches respond with better training adjustments. Data that is not used at the same rate as it’s collected usually results in a player not willing to contribute their efforts recording or collecting it in the future. We see advancements in communication with players, since CHECK™ gives players a simple reason to be more involved in the training process.
The second step in monitoring is educating players on why a reading or objective indicator may or may not agree with their subjective feedback. Players know their own bodies and any information, regardless of the advances in medical and technology in sport, doesn’t build trust unless it relates to their feelings. For example, DOMS (muscle soreness from training or competing) will vary with players depending on their individual biochemistry and genetic make up. Medical professionals realize that pain medicine can mask soreness, and sometimes workouts that are fatiguing don’t cause pain at all. Using CHECK™ can help coaches explain why they are making choices when athletes feel ready and are held back, or when athletes perceive fatigue and may be able to do more than they think. Most athletes want to know that you are interested in what they perceive and take account that information into the thought process of training.
Educating reinforces the collection process, and the next step is to create a way to interpret the data with the right analysis process. Analysis requires a perspective that is including all of the variables of training, traveling, competition, and medical treatment. Does the data make sense? What could be influencing the CHECK™ scores beyond training load? What is the schedule like in the next few days with training and competition? What is the history of this athlete or group when facing similar circumstances? Proper analysis is using all data, not just the scores from the physiological monitoring tool. To make a logical summary of where the athlete is presently and where they are likely going.
With a strong analysis approach and objective data, a firm and purposeful decision can be made. When the analysis is lacking a strong and confident summary, coaches are unlikely to make a committed decision on what to do. Shaky data is not actionable, and if the data is not proven to be solid coaches tend to do what is comfortable, and that is usually a compromise intervention of doing a little bit of everything instead of putting more effort into the right direction. Compromised decisions equate to compromised results, a common problem with coaches wanting to train with a clear purpose in mind but don’t have an objective status.
The final step in monitoring is commonly the least developed and weakest part, because the first steps being effectively executed are a prerequisite. In order to be successful, adjustments and better choices need valid data that is consistently collected with willing athletes. Athletes are willing to do testing when they are believers in the data, and when the CHECK™ scores start showing a connection between their training and feelings of wellbeing, cultural changes are made. Pre-constructed decision trees of protocols are obviously a must in professional sport, but without valid monitoring data, they are sometimes misguided. Great interventions without proper monitoring are like ballistic missiles without navigation, powerful but very limited in effectiveness.
Teams and private consultants have a thirst for more data and better data, but the bottleneck is usually scaling assessment with large groups. Using a mobile device and exploiting the power of the cloud, entire rosters can be tested remotely and get daily readiness scores without much time involved. Some athletes are not willing participants and may not be interested in doing anything, but we are seeing more and more adoption with CHECK™ because the data is lining up better to what coaches are seeing on their end. Effective team monitoring means the team can see what is going on up the minute and have enough confidence that the data is valid to make a strong and committed intervention. Simply observing data that isn’t actionable is negligent, since data is only effective if it’s used and tested to be valuable in applied settings.