Luke Menadue is the High Performance Manager at kb. Performance, a high performance facility specialising in female athlete development in Melbourne, Australia. Luke shares his insights on methods used to successfully manage athlete load.
When looking after teams or athletes, one area that I’ve found to be vital to their performance is the amount of rest and recovery they acquire throughout a week. This can often be difficult due to the demands and expectations that are placed on them – for example performing at certain level during training, completing a certain amount of strength and conditioning sessions per week and anything extra that may come with being involved with high-performing team.
I have always relied on feedback that I receive from the athlete’s themselves as I find that once you have built up a level of trust with them, they will often be more forthcoming and honest with how they are truly feeling. This feedback is generally received through basic methods such as recording RPE’s and having them complete Wellness Questionnaires.
Whilst I have always found these tools to be useful, since incorporating GPS data into my load-management reports I’ve definitely seen an improvement in how quickly I can make informed decisions about an athlete’s load for the upcoming coming week and also effectively communicate these decisions to the appropriate coaches.
One tool that I frequently used, is the Athlete Readiness function in GameTraka VSS. This tool provides me with an overview of an athlete’s load, either daily, weekly or monthly. It also provides information such as a rolling 28-day average – or in other words their acute chronic workload ratio (ACWR).
Whilst there has been some debate around ACWR, I have found it to be useful when managing my athletes as many of them are often spread across multiple teams and sports. When the athletes are in season, I use it to assist in managing their load on a week to week basis due to the game demands often being unpredictable. For example, what may have appeared as an easier game on paper turns out to be quite the opposite, resulting in an athlete having an unexpected spike in their workload.
By using the Athlete Readiness, I am able to quickly see if an abnormal spike occurs and account for this when planning their upcoming week. This may include adjusting their strength sessions to lessen the volume of work they do in this area or communicating with their respective coaches to determine what percentage of training they complete.
I also use this tool during an athlete’s pre-season, in particular when planning their conditioning programs. I will have a look at their data from the previous season to analyse and work out what their average distance ran per game, how much hard running they did and also how many sprints they undertook per game.
With these results in mind I can then sit down and plan their running programming, ensuring that they steadily progress towards matching the demands as seen in a game without burning them out. By using GPS and the Athlete Readiness, I can see their results in comparison to the previous week and month, helping me to make educated decisions regarding their load moving forward as the season draws closer.
Whilst there is no perfect solution when looking after athletes due to the unpredictable nature of their day-to-day activities, I have found that using tools such as RPE, Wellness Questionnaires and the Athlete Readiness function of SPT VSS can go a long way to assisting in preparing athlete’s for the upcoming season and also keeping them fit during season.
Luke was recently a guest on SPT's Half Time Talk Podcast. Click here to listen to Luke's journey in becoming a Sport Scientist and how he manages his athletes.