This is the second post in my series on the player monitoring system I set up for Whitecaps FC. In my first post in this series, I wrote about the basics of how the system worked. In this second part, I’ll provide some insight on the reports that the system generates and how coaches and medical staff are able to use them to guide decisions on training, playing time, and so forth. I’ve also provided a distilled report where you can see what coached receive each day.
As I mentioned in the preceding post, the system creates a “Readiness Score” for each player every day. These scores are tabulated after the conclusion of the day’s match or practice. Once all of the day’s data is entered in to the system, a report is generated that is sent to the coaching and medical staff. Although there’s quite a bit of data entered in to the system each day, my goal for the report was to make it as simple as possible. I wanted to provide something that coaches and medical staff could get valuable information from with a quick glance but also find more information if they cared to. Because it was sent daily, I wanted to ensure that the email did not become “white noise” or take a significant effort to get the necessary information. To do this, I put my main points of interest on a single page and color coded results. The report highlights what I consider several key indicators.
The first indicator that I’ve chosen to highlight on the reports is what I call “Sleep Score.” You’ll find that in the third column of the real example report I’ve provided below. The sleep score is the product of the self-reported duration and quality of their sleep. The product of these two numbers gets reported in arbitrary units and is loosely color coded based on recent research on sleep needs of athletes. This body of research suggests sleep is tied to injury prevention, career longevity, ability to adapt to training, mental clarity, and body composition, among other factors which is why I’ve chosen to highlight it. I also think it provides a window in to the lifestyle and priorities of the athlete. The sleep score is “graded” with a banded green, yellow, orange, red color scheme that allows coaches and medical staff to see how well an athlete slept the previous night. Obviously, there are some possible limitations with self-reported numbers but we’ve found athletes to be honest (based on the ranges and variability of responses). We’ve also emphasized that it is never in the athlete’s best interest to lie on their self-reported numbers.
The next indicator that I chose to highlight on the daily reports is the Player Readiness score. The Readiness Score is color graded with high scores being green, followed by yellow, followed by orange and very low readiness scores being flagged as red. This helps to make the data visually accessible to coaches at a quick glance. It is important to note, however, that green flagged readiness scores are not necessarily good and red flagged readiness scores are not necessarily bad. Remember, these are an indicator of the previous 6 days with a significantly greater weight placed on more recent days. As such you could have guys “go red” based on a very necessary hard training day. Ideally, we want guys who are in our regular 18 to be green or yellow going in to games but if a player is ALWAYS green or green for extended periods of time, it likely means they’re probably not training hard enough to maintain fitness. On the other hand, we want to control how often a player is “in the red” on their readiness score but occasional red scores aren’t a bad thing. It’s actually beneficial for players to occasionally be in the red or orange because it is probably an indication that they’re doing the training necessary to be fit to play at 100%. I say probably, because we can discern whether an athlete’s readiness / stress load is a result of what we’re doing at practice and games or things off the pitch and somewhat outside of our control. And this is where the last 2 notifications become very important.
The third indicator is a suggestion based on the state of the athlete and their prior history. This is perhaps the most relevant and actionable of all information to come from the daily report. This indicator will suggest that the athlete either “Needs Rest,” is “Good” or “Needs Training.” Those recommendations are based on the following criteria:
- It will say “Needs Rest” if the person has had several consecutive days with a high (red or orange) player readiness score.
- It will say “Needs Training” if the player has not had a hard physical stimulus (in the form of a game or practice) for several consecutive days. This is based on MiCoach Elite data, survey answers, our quasi-objective TRIMP score, game minutes, etc. Seeing “Needs training” isn’t really a problem….it’s just an indication that the player could probably use some form of physically demanding training (or a match).
- It will say “Good” for all other scenarios
The final indicator that the daily report produces is closely tied with the previous one. This one is a column which specifically highlights scenarios when an athlete has gone a significant period of time without a high training or match load. If an athlete has an alert for this indicator we have a problem. The report will show this as “Losing Fitness for XYZ day.” It is only triggered after a preset number of days. Any time this alert comes up it is highlighted in red.
The system is capable (although I’m the only one who ever used it) to send out text message alerts when when players triggered certain thresholds. Our coaches and medical staff have been fine receiving just the daily PDF report by email.
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Mike is the Head Fitness Coach for the North Carolina Courage and North Carolina FC. He is also the owner and Director of Performance at Athletic Lab sports performance training center. He previously served as the fitness coach for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Carolina Railhawks. He has a PhD in Biomechanics, an MS in Coaching Science, and a BSS in Exercise Physiology and has coached Olympic and professional athletes in Skeleton, Track & Field, MLS and NASL Soccer, PGA Golf, NFL Football, MLB Baseball and Olympic Weightlifting. He has lectured around the world and authored 2 books and dozens of research and coaching articles.
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