As a coach or player, this is where player tracking technology helps understand what players are experiencing and if, or how, adjustments should be made to training plans. Some devices record hundreds of data points that show anything from how much distance is covered, and at what speeds, to number of impacts a player experiences and even on what foot you may favor while running. Being aware such information can help coaches improve fitness/conditioning very similar to how tracking weights used for certain lifts can help improve strength development in the weight room. There is also a risk-management aspect, in terms of minimizing non-contact injuries, that can be utilized by watching how much distance players cover each day, week or season.
Tracking athletes from three different codes of Rugby (Union, Sevens and Touch) has allowed me to become familiar with the average work endured by players in each position during local, national and international competitions. This information is extremely important for when athletes are preparing to make a jump up in competition (club to select or national to international) and allows me to prescribe "top-up" conditioning to prepare individuals for the faster, more intense competition they will face at the next level.
Earlier this year, quite the opposite effect was experienced. It was discovered after the first Rugby 7's training of the year that players had covered distances that were double what would be run during an entire tournament. Many might ask "Well, if they ran further, they would get more fit, right?"
Think about trying to lift 150% more thank you are accustomed to for a particular exercise. Not only may you miss the lift and need longer to recover, but you open yourself to a much greater risk of injury. . Same with your running. If you cover long distances too often at too great of an intensity you can increase your risk of experiencing soft tissue injuries (pulled hamstring, strained calf, etc)
"So how would one use this technology?"
While the technology may provide over 100 data points, there are only a handful of categories to focus on, initially. Here are the main categories we focus on with our current squads:
Total Distance: actual amount of distance covered during a training session, match or activity. Most coaches set targets for total volume within a session, week and/or season.
High Speed Distance: total distance covered over a certain speed level. Some coaches refer to this as 'work-rate' as it highlights whether an athlete is walking/jogging around the field or moving with urgency and purpose.
Sprint Efforts (accelerations/decelerations): number of times velocity increases and is maintained for more than 1-second
Impacts: number of instances that register 5G Forces or greater (tackles, jumps/dives, etc). This is important when considering recovery processes and upcoming weight workouts as certain areas of the body may be more sore than usual.
Top Speed: maximum speed reached. It is important to make sure athletes are reaching maximum or near-maximum speeds on a regular basis. Recognizing that players have not reached their speed max may call for some extra speed work outside of regular training.
Based on your code/sport, position and point in the season, there are certain benchmarks for each category that you will want to target on a short and long term scale.
Interested in learning more? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the difference in workloads and speeds by position or to discuss how getting your own unit (it's more affordable than you think) can impact your training and performance.
#kilograms2kilometers #knowyournumbers #stopguessingstartmeasuring #wintherecovery