To quickly review Athlete Monitoring 101, SPT GPS technology can monitor the physical work performed by the athlete which include total distance, number and distance of sprints, work rate, intensity score, etc. This is called the external load.
The internal load is how the body responds to the external load. Internal load can be measured by heart rate or some subjective indicator of the perceptual response or rating of perceived exertion (RPE). Think of it as ‘how hard or strenuous was practice’?
The other aspect of athlete monitoring is determining how the athlete is coping with the stress of training. This is often referred to as recovery and wellness, well-being, or simply wellness. The options for monitoring athlete wellness range from time-consuming and expensive objective fitness and fatigue markers like jump tests, heart rate variability, cortisol, etc. to quite simple and feasible paper-and-pencil surveys.
In a study involving the Oregon Ducks football team in the US, the sports science department asked ‘Does pre-training wellness rating influence player output?’
As part of their routine athlete monitoring program, players completed a 3 question subjective wellness rating 2 hours before practice based on the questions below. They then wore a GPS monitor during practice and also reported their RPE (Borg scale 0-10) after practice.
- “How SORE were you when you woke up this morning?”
1 = terribly sore, 5 = no soreness at all
- “How did you SLEEP last night?”
1 = terrible sleep, 5 = excellent sleep
- “How ENERGISED do you feel today?”
1 = no energy at all, 5 = totally energised
As a result of the study, the sports science department found that a 1-unit increase in Z score (1 standard deviation from the average) for wellness and energy was associated with 2.3% and 2.6% increase in player load, respectively. Measures of muscle soreness and sleep were not related to player load.
A 1-unit increase in muscle soreness (players felt less sore) corresponded to a 4.4% decrease in RPE training load. Energy and sleep were not related to RPE training load.
The researchers concluded that “measuring pre-training subjective wellness may provide information about players' capacity to perform in a training session and could be a key determinant of their response to the imposed training demands in sport. Hence, monitoring subjective wellness may aid in the individualisation of training prescription for athletes.”
If you're interested in learning more about sport science concepts, head to our SPT University.