One question that Sam Boylett-Long, Head of Strength & Conditioning and Sport Science at Reading FC Women, gets asked regularly by coaches is, “Have the players done enough?”.
In order to answer that question, Sam needs to quantify the workload that the players are being exposed to. That’s where Catapult technology is able to support him.
“Using the built-in acute versus chronic ratio within one of our dashboards, I was able to show the coaching staff that the players were pretty much where we want them to be regarding their training load (in pre-season,” says Sam. “Using that as a springboard enabled further discussion on how the pre-season was structured and hopefully getting the coaching staff to buy in to my current model and build leading into our competitive season.”
Of course, effective communication between multiple departments is crucial if the insights Sam derives are to be effectively implemented into training and rehabilitation plans. For Sam, close collaboration with the medical staff is particularly important in order to effectively manage the loads players are being exposed to.
“Between myself and the medical team it is important to continually review session data to ensure that players fall on the ‘line of best fit’ that doesn’t push or pull the players to an aggressive model (potential for injury or reinjury) or unchallenging model (stagnant or poor adaptation),” says Sam. “Using that approach of trying to find a ‘line of best fit’ between an athlete’s current physical state and where they need to be can result in either an aggressive or unchallenging pathway back to training.”
To ensure that his athletes are optimising their performance levels while simultaneously reducing injury risk, Sam keeps an eye on certain key metrics to ensure that their training and conditioning is having the desired effect.
“I use max velocity and high-speed running metres to make sure players are hitting north of 85% of their max speed bi-weekly if there aren’t any competitive fixtures,” says Sam. “This is primarily to mitigate potential hamstring injury. If players are being loaded through the same ranges of motion with the same forces akin to their sprinting performances, then this will hopefully aid hamstring strength and robustness in the same way S&C works within a gym setting.
“Post-data collection and download I use both an acute:chronic ratio and EWMA acute:chronic within Excel to derive a model which permits an adequate build of physiological criteria for performance, while mitigating errors in training load to mitigate injury.”
Enabling him to construct an effective programme and improve the efficiency of key processes, Sam has found that Catapult is saving him time and enhancing the way performance information is communicated throughout the club.
“Using Catapult has enabled me to periodise training loads in and out of season, just like a programme within a gym setting,” says Sam. “Being both an S&C coach and a sports scientist takes up a lot of time, but Catapult has sped up the process of generating reports for all members of the coaching team. Previously I had spent hours in Microsoft Excel to achieve the same result.”