Over the past decade, there has been an increasing amount of attention placed on how coaches and support staff can best monitor the training process. The goal of this process is twofold: first, it enables us to get a fairly decent idea as to how fatigued the athlete is at any given point in time; and second, it gives us an idea as to how well the athlete is adapting to the given training load.
Both aspects are important, and the information gained from such monitoring techniques—provided they are both valid and reliable—allows us to make better decisions about the type of training the athlete should carry out, and what intensity the athlete can best respond to on any given day. I recently explored these aspects in “Monitoring the Training Process,” but if you are interested in taking an even closer look at the whys and hows of monitoring the training process, there is a fantastic book—Monitoring Training and Performance in Athletes, authored by Mike McGuigan and published last year—that drills down into the details.Mike McGuigan’s fantastic book drives down into the details of monitoring the training process. Click To Tweet
McGuigan is well-placed to author such a book, as he is a professor of strength and conditioning at AUT University in New Zealand, and was formerly a power scientist with High Performance Sport New Zealand. He has also authored/co-authored a number of papers exploring the relationships between performance on a test and training adaptations/load. (This includes the use of Rating of Perceived Exertion within resistance training; the relationship between training load and injury in basketball players; and the use of the countermovement jump as a method of monitoring neuromuscular recovery).
The first chapter of Monitoring Training and Performance in Athletes is an exploration of the reasons we should monitor athletes. Of course, while we tend to focus on training-based parameters such as load and intensity—as mentioned in the introduction—non-training aspects will also come into play here. These affect the neurochemical and hormonal environments in which the athlete presents prior to receiving the training stimulus, which in turn can affect the adaptive response. Such “outside” stressors undoubtedly play an important role in how well the athlete can tolerate a training load, and so should be considered in the data collection process.There are non-training aspects of monitoring athletes to consider in the data collection process. Click To Tweet
Chapter 2 delves into the various tools available for those looking to monitor the training process. This is an (fortunately gentle) introduction into various different statistical methods that coaches will need to understand, such as z-scores and t-scores, which give us an idea as to how far the athlete’s present data point is from the norm. This “norm” can be within an individual over time, which is useful for monitoring training load. It can also be for a specific individual against the rest of the team, which is useful for identifying athletes who do much better or worse than their teammates on a given performance test, allowing for the personalization of training within teams. There is also a discussion around test reliability and validity: simple concepts that are often overlooked when it comes to developing a training program, and where errors can severely hamper the interpretations made from the data.Test reliability & validity are simple concepts often overlooked when developing a training program. Click To Tweet
Chapter 3 explores the various aspects that contribute to physiological training stress. Here, we get an introduction to the various models that are often used to explain the training-induced stress response, such as Selye’s General Adaptation Model and the Fitness-Fatigue model. Building on this, there is then a discussion of the different markers that coaches can use to determine when an athlete is moving towards a maladaptive state, such as non-functional overreaching or overtraining.
This knowledge base is further built upon in Chapter 4, which gives us examples of tools we can use to quantify the training stress, such as external load (think GPS and power meters) and internal load (think RPE and heart rate). There is also an overview of different wellness questionnaires in this section.
Chapter 5 then moves into measures of fitness and fatigue, perhaps representing the chapter of most interest. Examples given here include various vertical jumps as a measure of neuromuscular fatigue; heart rate measures (including HRV); and hormonal, biochemical, and immunological markers, which are perhaps outside of the financial and practical reach of most coaches. At the end of the chapter, there is an overview of various performance tests that you can utilize. Chapter 6 then moves into the way coaches often use these aspects in practice, with special reference to the various technologies available, including light gates such as those offered by SimpliFaster.
Chapter 7 is where it all comes together: How can the coach integrate the various monitoring methods within their coaching practice? This can be as simple as determining readiness to train using the previous 24-48 hours’ worth of wellness data provided by the athlete, or monitoring within session performance using a velocity-based method. Within this conversation are discussions regarding barriers to effective monitoring, along with guidelines for conducting in-house studies determining the effectiveness of particular monitoring techniques for your athletes, which may be of interest to some coaches. Following this, the final two chapters explore athlete monitoring guidelines for both individual (Chapter 8) and team sport (Chapter 9) athletes.Many coaches know they should monitor the training process, and this book will help them do it. Click To Tweet
Overall, I found this book very useful—monitoring the training process is something that many coaches know they should do. However, it isn’t always possible to keep up-to-date with all the research, and so many coaches feel like they don’t have the required knowledge base on which to build an effective monitoring program. This book aims to change that.
A particular strength of the book is that it makes often-challenging concepts, particularly relating to statistics, easier to understand, and it gives plenty of practical examples. As a result, I would strongly recommend this book to those coaches who want to start implementing training monitoring programs, but are unsure of how to start. This book should make things much clearer for you.
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