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!
Norwegian National Taekwondo Team started to use Checkmylevel about a year ago. Their Head Coach Dr David Cook decided that athletes will have two accounts each and they will do assessments every morning and evening. Checkmylevel provides the option to hide all the results from the athletes and only coaches can see them, Coach Cook decided to also use this option. We got short user review from Tina Røe Skaar, full-time Norwegian National Taekwondo Team.
The Checkmylevel system is to me a valuable tracking device for monitoring my health situation. As a full-time athlete training almost every day, staying healthy is my first priority. Without having the energy and being able to perform when it is necessary, making continuous progress, improving and steadily achieving new targets becomes a challenge. Trying to become the best athlete is a challenge itself, and that is why it is helpful to have a tool that helps monitor my recovery, as this is directly linked to my overall health. My physician from the Olympic support team states that staying healthy is the most important thing to succeed as an athlete, and this is where the Checkmylevel device is important.
To be in good health as an athlete, it is crucial to make the right decisions and priorities in your everyday life. Factors like sleep, restitution, diet and nutrition, hygiene and mental well-being are all important for good health. To assist in making the right decisions with my own health, the Checkmylevel works as a strong addition to the coach-player dynamic. The National team coach tracks the daily changes (morning and evening) of the scores associated with the Checkmylevel system. Actual results are seen solely by our coach who then shares with us when necessary and adapts our sessions (individually or group) appropriately. This has been a positive approach, as we already have many things to deal with already in our daily lives as athletes.
The Checkmylevel device easily fits into my daily routines. I use the Checkmylevel twice a day, after I wake up in the morning and right before I go to bed. When using the Checkmylevel you use the reusable electrodes that and your phone with the downloaded Checkmylevel application. The electrodes are easily placed on the left arm, before you plug it into the Checkmylevel device and connect the bluetooth on the device to your phone. The "Checking my level"-process lasts no more than approximately 5 seconds. At the end of each session the device also has a subjective measure that considers training intensity etc., which enables an objective-subjective relationship to be made. The data that comes in every day gets logged and saved on my user-ID in the application, making it possible to monitor the results using graphs and statistics that the application generates. After setting a baseline (approximately 7 days) you can after a period of use, analyse days with low scores or sickness, and start to identify patterns that may be causal factors. The scores are based on percentages and colour codes. Green means you are ready for training, yellow means you are okay, but it is not ideal and might need adapted training; and orange/red that the health status is low and you should rest or maybe seek a physician. This system makes it very simple to make sense of.
The Checkmylevel is an easy device to use, and has been very helpful for me since I started using it. Personally, as an athlete I have been prone to illness, resulting in breaks and periods off training. Checkmylevel system had made these situations easier to identify and in turn put in strategies to deal with. As such, I believe the Checkmylevel system is a valuable tool for any athlete or active person wanting to keep track of their health, and to more easily read their body ‘signals’ to maintain an active lifestyle.
At the beginning of the summer there was an article on Tempaus-magazine which is magazine of Finnish weightlifting association.
Here is short English summary of the article.
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
Supporting a small group or entire team roster with player monitoring, is a growing demand with coaches and other support staff now. In order to reveal direction to what the data is saying, teams are looking to other fields and their use of statistics for an advantage. Unfortunately typical statistical analysis isn’t always sport appropriate, because combining human biology and sports training is unique. Several teams are investing into very expensive business intelligence tools and statistical analysis software, a good idea on paper, but in our experience an imperfect solution. When managing large amounts of player data, there is a temptation to aggregate or merge all the data to see relationships. The central repository approach is very popular because most teams realize the interaction of all variables is likely to be the cause of trends and patterns. The problem with merging too much data is that our eyes can get lost with information overload, so just the right amount of information is a better choice. Teams can still collect all the data they need, but management is not collecting as much as possible, but organizing and visualizing the right data.View full article →
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 →