Catapult Fundamentals: Why is athlete monitoring important?
Introducing you to the science behind our technology, the Catapult Fundamentals series explains sports science concepts and principles, and looks at the ways athlete monitoring systems can be used to improve team and player performance.
A key development in sport over the last three decades has been the increased use of scientific methods to inform the preparation for and participation in elite competition.
Recent innovations have enabled teams to closely monitor athlete performance across all sessions and matches, facilitating a much deeper understanding of training methods that benefits athletes and coaches alike.
1. Quantify Individual Strengths & Weaknesses
Given the unique physiology of each athlete, individuals naturally possess different strengths and weaknesses, as well as varying levels of potential to develop the key facets of their game.
By using scientific methods to objectively design and validate a monitoring programme to complement an athlete’s training schedule, it becomes possible to measure progression relative to appropriate performance targets.
2. Performance Feedback
Today’s tracking technologies can monitor athlete performance in real-time and give individual feedback in relation to the aims of an individual session or the programme as a whole.
For example, Catapult technology has the capacity to deliver feedback both in real-time and post-session, enabling coaches to make performance decisions based on objective information. This approach helps maximise the safety and effectiveness of training sessions.
By enabling coaching staff to deliver comprehensive feedback to their athletes, monitoring technologies invariably spark dialogue around the implications the relevant data has for the performance of individuals or the team as a whole.
These conversations are opportunities for sports scientists and coaches to help their athletes better understand the meaning and application of key performance metrics. This educational process can in turn lead to improved training practice and encourage athletes to improve their self-management.
1. Talent Identification
By using athlete monitoring technologies to establish a range of performance tests that reflect the physical and technical demands of a sport, coaches can monitor the development of young athletes and map the qualities of potential recruits against the standards being set by players already in the squad.
2. Objective Planning
Rather than basing individual training programmes on subjective assessments of a player’s strengths and weaknesses, athlete monitoring systems can help coaches to quantify an athlete’s performance levels and support the construction of training plans that are specifically designed to develop certain areas of their game.
3. Team Profiling
Through the collection of physical data and aggregation of individual profiles into positional or squad averages, coaches can more closely monitor the general effectiveness of their training programmes.
If a team adopts this approach, the insights gathered can reveal how periods of intensive training or match activity influence overall readiness and fatigue levels, thereby informing the design of training schedules.
4. Injury Risk Reduction
By monitoring athletes and developing individual and squad databases over time, coaches can build an enhanced understanding of the physiology of their team.
As part of this process, coaches can begin to identify ‘red flags’ that are associated with increased risk of injury. Once these warning signs have been established, staff can make interventions to reduce or remove that risk, a policy that can lead to improve athlete availability over the course of a season.
5. Rehabilitation Support
By using athlete monitoring processes to establish data-driven performance benchmarks for athletes when they are healthy, it becomes easier to quantify safe and effective rehabilitation and return-to-play protocols during periods of injury.
Detailed monitoring of this nature helps to identify the time when reintroduction to training and matches is associated with minimum risk of injury, helping to protect athletes from the rigours of their full training programme until they have returned to their pre-injury levels.
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