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Sunday, 16 January 2011

The other side of monitoring - keeping track of outside stressors

Regular readers of t his blog will know how much I value monitoring training/matches. Heart rate monitors, GPS units, video analysis, and RPEs can all be used to quantify the volume and intensity of training. My own research for my PhD centers around this subject.

Something that I have not really written about, however, is the importance of monitoring other aspects of the athlete's life. We as coaches work with our athletes 1 to 4 hours per day. What they do for the other 23 to 20 hours per day has a huge impact on the all important process of recovery & adaptation.

Outside stressors can range from lack of sleep, family problems, inadequate nutrition, and stress.

Outside Stressors (from Stone, Stone, & Sands, 2007)

We are all in this industry (I hope) to help our athletes improve. Having some method of tracking outside stressors will help them move towards their goals. On a selfish front - we can create an excellent training program for our players but if they are doing the wrong things away from the field and gym, then our program may well not seem so good. If the athlete is going through some hard times (relationship break-up, illness of a family member, etc.), then we probably should modify training otherwise performance may suffer and/or injury could be more likely.

There is no 100% right way to address this problem, it is more of a "soft" part of sport science, but a tool that can help the process is an online questionnaire service. There are many out there, but the one that we use at ETSU is Sportably. I have mentioned this before on my blog but don't worry - I haven't sold my soul to the devil and gone all commercial on you. Sportably is completely free. Online systems can greatly reduce the time required to enter and interpret scores - a huge factor when you are working with many athletes in the team situation. Also, there is evidence to show that people are more likely to be truthful when telling the computer something rather than a person directly - so this is another plus.

Basic Monitoring

I start taking data for my doctoral dissertation next week, and I will be using Sportably to help track outside stressors that may impact the results of the study. It is developed by a fellow sport physiology PhD candidate as part of his studies at ETSU, and custom questionnaires and an iPhone application are coming soon. Check it out for your own training and get a feel for it and I am sure you will see how valuable it could be for your athletes.

Questionnaires such as the RESTQs & POMs

Ref.
Stone, M. H., Stone, M. E., & Sands, W. A. (2007). Principles and practice of resistance training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics

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