“The Checkmylevel tests showed the readiness of an athlete for the games.” Petri Kettunen, Head Coach, Finland Men’s National Floorball
Petri Kettunen, Finland men’s national floorball team head coach of the 2016 world champions, made use of the data given by Checkmylevel during the important tournament. He wanted information about his athletes’ performance to find out their readiness for the games. Based on the results, he was able to make changes to his team’s line-up.
The tests pointed out sicknesses
The players carried out tests for two weeks. They started using Checkmylevel at a preparatory training camp, and then continued throughout the tournament week, doing the test every morning before breakfast. With the results, the head coach and the medical staff were able to monitor the athletes’ performance and the actual state of their body. The athletes themselves were not allowed to see their test results.
“The tests gave us the confirmation and assurance we were looking for about the state of the athlete’s body. During the week, some players fell sick, and Checkmylevel spotted these cases. The readings were extremely useful – with their help we knew in advance who needs to focus on getting better and take a day off,” Petri says.
Understanding the training needs
This time, the team applied the Checkmylevel test results only during the actual tournament week. According to Petri, using the product on a daily basis throughout the year would give the greatest benefits to athletes and coaches. The data would tell them how the athlete’s body responds to and endures different modes of training, also providing them with a better understanding of the training needs.
“When you combine these results to the other data available, we get the fullest possible picture of the status of an athlete’s body. This way we can count on each player being ready for the important games when they begin,” Petri says.“The Checkmylevel tests showed
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Checkmylevel had a pleasure to host PhD Francisco J. Albert García at the end of April. Fran has PhD on sports medicine; Thesis: Effects of b-hydroxy-b-methylbutyrate supplementation on muscle function in football. He has also worked as a strength coach for example with Real Zaragoza, Real Club Celta de Vigo, CD Castellon and UD Salamanca.
Fran, how do you see the relationship between science and coaching?
I think that it is must that we work very close together as scientists and coaches because coaches are at the frontline to see the problem and they can ask some help to solve some practical problem from scientists that had studied that problem as in theory.
In my case I try to combine science and coaching. I think it’s important that if you have academic background that you don’t leave it behind but you use it with the players to find solutions for their problems. You read about it from other studies you research it and you talk with other scientists all around the world.
Jens Bangsbo once said: “Football is not the science but science can help football”. This can help us to understand how we can apply science to sports and this can also motivate students that want to be fitness coaches. It’s important that all the technical staff work closely together with the researchers because they both need each others to be better. It is our responsibility to be up dated and knowing about new research results that can help to improve people we train. Only research can’t solve the problems because every athlete is an individual within a team context and every team is different.
Were you first a scientist or were you a coach first?
While I was studying my PhD I was coaching 3rd division team. I got a chance to go abroad to study but at the same time I got an offer to coach a professional team. I was very young and therefore I had almost none experience of coaching or playing as a professional but I never forgot the academic studies. In my case I can’t separate where the coaching starts and science end, it’s not black and white.
What is the most important or difficult thing that coach can do to get the athlete to do his best?
It is important to develop your exercises taking into account your player characteristics, your style of play, philosophy of club and coach. To develop as a football player your training has to be individualized for your position and your background. Regardless it’s important for team dynamics that we end practice together for example small game.
Can team be more than its players?
We say that in football the team is more than its sum, it’s the synergy generated by the team members. It’s multiplied if everyone does their best and they are positive. Being positive is not always that they are happy. It can mean making jokes when needed, being good brother, being serious when needed and being hard worker. That can increase power of your team, even multiply it. Sport psychology can help coaches and tell them how to use this phenomenon.
What do you think are the most important qualities of a top level athlete, both physically and mentally?
You have to show passion for the thing you are doing. It’s hard to be an elite athlete because you have so much pressure. We always see the beautiful part when we see athletes on TV or on the field but there are lot of work behind it by the athlete and his friend and family. You aren’t always so motivated but you have to think about the goal you want to achieve. You have to be mentally strong.
How you see fatigue on a team or can you see it on a team?
We have to take on account the mental fatigue, neuro-muscular fatigue or maybe the central fatigue and the peripheral fatigue. I think in most cases fatigues are in relation to each other. We can’t think the one without the other. You can do the same exercises, travel the same way and do everything the same way physically but you also have to change things so you can wake up the brain and give brains some new energy. This mental energy can help the athlete to recover better from physical fatigue.
How do you see the balance between training, matches and rest during the season?
Today we are giving more emphasis to recovery and this is good news. We have known for a long time that recovery is important. To recover you have to take into account individual characteristics inside the team dynamic. The team can recover only if we take care of individual response to the fatigue. Knowing this can help them to decrease their risk to get injured. Sometimes we coaches forget that training is training load plus the recovery period.
For me it’s important to give more emphasis to recovery when schedule is full of matches every week. There are many ways to track players’ recovery. Some of them are cheaper and easier and some of them are more complex. And it’s important that everyone can find good set of methods to check his team’s recovery. I think it’s important to explain to the athlete why gather the information of his recovery and this information is only used to help him to train better individually to win. It’s important that the player knows that recovery tools are used to help to decide how to train so he can be at his best on the next game. For the coach and team it’s important to win before the match and one way of doing this is to have all your players available.
Thank you Fran!
Checkmylevel had a short interview with sprint coach Håkan Andersson. He has worked over 30 years as a coach including few years as national relay coach. He now coaches sprinters like Johan Wissman (20,30/44,56), Tom Kling-Baptiste (6,65/10,29/20,87, Stefan Tärnhuvud (6,67/10,35). He also hosts every year The Sundsvall Windsprint www.windsprint.se, international sprint and hurdle carnival.
Håkan, could you tell us about your coaching philosophy?
I think that a key component for a success and long-term development is to understand and take into consideration that athletes are individuals with different mindset, physiological genome and training background. There is also the relationship between the athlete’s current state and the response to a given training load. As a coach you have to understand that two individuals might respond very differently to the same stimulus and one individual might not respond to a training load today in the same way as he/she did last week, month or year. To predict how an athlete is going to respond to training is difficult to say the least.
To program an optimal relationship between load and adaptation is very complex, determined by numerous variables, some are well explored but some is still to be.
As a coach I have to take into considerations for example
Fatigue is not necessary your enemy, but in fact an important part of the adaptation process. Fatigue is not a simple reaction to training and competition; it is a complex array of responses that trigger changes to different systems of the body. As I see it overtraining in a the more general term is not a major problem in sprinting, but so is lack of long term speed development and injuries that in both cases can be overreactions to overload and inability to make acute but sometimes necessary adjustments in the training you have planned and prescribed.
One way to safeguard against overload is being more precise to the cause and effect of training by measuring both the workout and the fatigue from it. Measuring just one is helpful, but measuring both gives the coach a monitoring gauge how the body responds to training and how to adjust sessions in the future.
What do you think are the most important qualities/ feature of a top-level sprinter, both physically and mentally?
That sprinting is a “genetic sport” goes without saying. Everybody can develop speed but the rooms for improvements are limited. This span is if you are lucky and maintain healthy usually less than 10% for an entire career and less than 1% per year. In term of physical qualities the ability to relax while producing very high forces in extremely brief time frames is crucial, the ground contact time for a top level sprinter is for example in full flight under 0,09 seconds. Most big sprinting finals are mind games. Everybody is very talented to begin with, everybody is also well trained and prepared. Who will win has usually very little to do with all that though since the winner is usually the person that is able to relax the most while his body is swimming in a sea of adrenaline and extreme arousal.
How do you see the balance between training, competition and rest during the season?
Within the competitive season there is usually a lot more psychological than pure physiological stress to handle as in the preparatory stages. But also here we see large individual differences in the ability to wire down after competitions, to cope with sometimes rather extended and tough travels and constant changes of environments. The people can cope this can usually compete more frequent while others will benefit more from a less frequent competition schedule and instead train more.
Why did you choose Checkmylevel system to assist you in monitoring your athletes and their recovery?
To have an open and honest communicating between coach and athletes is in my mind absolutely crucial but in my experience it is sometimes very difficult for an athlete to be completely objective and even honest, especially in new coach/athlete relationships. The questioning how do you feel today is important but sometimes there is a too fine of a line between optimal training and recovery to be noticed. On the extreme sides underpreparing by going to conservative is rare but being too aggressive is definitely too common and very easy lead into stales and/or injuries.
The Checkmylevel test is very quickly to conduct for the athletes. Both the hardware and the software is very easy to use and I especially like the feature that I personally can switch of the athletes ability to see his/her own testing scores. That particular feature has shown essential for most top-level athletes that tend to be some slightly “neurotic”, especially in the middle of the competitive season. With Checkmylevel I have found an objective compliment to verbal communication, diaries and questioners and most important; as a coach I get an instant feedback in terms of the athlete’s recovery state and readiness to perform the training I have planned for that particular day or period.
Thank you Håkan!
Are You Overtraining?
The biggest problem in sport is not overtraining, but overreaction to fatigue and improper management. Fatigue is not the enemy, but an important part of the training process. Without fatigue, the body has no reason to adapt and get better, so fatigue is a necessary part of the equation. Fatigue is not a simple reaction to training and competition; it is a complex array of responses that trigger changes to different organs and systems of the body. Scientists and coaches have debated the causes and methods that best measure fatigue for years, and solutions in recovery have been even less agreed on. In this article we will fully explain overtraining, from the response after a CrossFit workout to an entire season of an athlete who is struggling to get out of a hole.
The Super-compensation Model and Recovery
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"Trend forecasting is much like archeology but to the future.” - Lidewij Edelkoort
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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.View full article →
This blog entry focuses on training for the skeleton event during the late summer of 2013, with one athlete who was on holiday without his coach. The recorded training diary demonstrates the precision and sensitivity of the CHECK™ system when assessing neuromuscular fatigue from speed and power training. The athlete involved used the system over 26 days during and exhaustive training regimen. For privacy purposes the nationality and athlete’s name was anonymous for the article.View full article →
When you feel tired, the source of that feeling may be coming from your brain. A popular theory of fatigue is that intense training causes central fatigue, a pattern of tiredness coming from the upper centers of the nervous system, or the brain. Central fatigue is getting a lot of interest with coaches and athletes, because it may provide a way to guide training by measuring it. Scientists have believed that central fatigue is a major player in causing poor performance and even be a culprit to injuries. In this blog we will cover topics such as central nervous system fatigue, Electroencephalography (EEG), and muscle inflammation. In addition to those subjects, we will go head to head with EEG approaches and share why we created CHECK™ to get a better way to gage fatigue of the neuromuscular system.View full article →
If one looks at all of the available research and products on the market, getting lost in what is the best way to assess fatigue is easy. More and more options are available to coaches and fitness enthusiasts today, and making the decision on what can be used daily requires a brief primer on the science of testing fatigue. What is accurate and practical? Does the test measure what it’s supposed to measure? How does the information make better decisions? In this entry, we will explain what are the best options in assessing fatigue and why our option stands at the top for athletes wanting to push themselves to the limit.View full article →
When an athlete goes down because of injury, specially a non-contact one, attention will be directed to the medical and performance staff for answers. Countless questions on why it happened will be raised with the media and outside observers, but internally the answers are usually unknown. Several approaches are thought as leading metrics for monitoring and managing fatigue, but gross fatigue to the neuromuscular system is the most revealing and unfortunately the most difficult to assess in the past. Subjective questionnaires, blood testing, Heart Rate Variability, Electroencephalography, and even power tests such as jumping are all valuable, but what is best? Most importantly what are the field and physiological tests truly sharing, and are they a true window to the current status the nervous system? How does the information collected equate to what the athlete can actually do on the playing arena? The answer is clear, neuromuscular fatigue is the most effective way to manage speed and power athletes, either Olympic sports or team sport. Until now, neuromuscular fatigue required lab equipment, and took too much time for it to be a real world solution. Fortunately, the CHECK™ system can monitor athletes quickly and accurately with just a smartphone and Bluetooth device...View full article →