"Europe's largest interdisciplinary Conference on Sports Science, Medicine, Conditioning, Rehabilitation and Performance Coaching"
Although I was not lucky enough to attend, I wanted to help spread the news of this great event here, so asked David Sutton, who also presented at the conference, to write a few words. As always, he has been able to pick out some important messages that are practically applicable to us in our pursuit of performance. Thank you David for doing this.
I am honoured to be writing a blog for Howard Gray. From a few discussions online and meeting at the UKSCA conference in 2010, we have become good friends and he is always someone I can turn to for advice.
As there have already been a couple of excellent reviews of UKSEM here http://jplightfoot.com/2011/11/27/uksem-a-recap/ and http://blogs.bmj.com/bjsm/2011/11/27/moneyball-rewarding-excellent-sports-medicine-care-but-check-your-indemnity-limit-you-may-need-more-if-treating-elite-professional-athletes/ and http://www.coachmattsmith.com/2011/12/01/uksem-2011/
Howard writes predominantly about monitoring and evidence-based practice, so I am going to highlight some thoughts and highlights from the UKSEM conference that touched on this area.
Vernon Neville presented a fascinating insight into the demands of American Cup Sailing. There were several interesting physical demands, not least the challenge of thermoregulation when going downwind (cold) vs working to get upwind (hot). However what I really took away was their monitoring of Salivary Iga and the link with upper respiratory infections. This has been published Here and demonstrated how managing the risk of this through careful monitoring could maximise training sessions. Similar research has been done in female soccer here without success and successfully with endurance athletes here. I think with some sports it has potential to be a massive benefit, whilst for others, the resource required could perhaps be better allocated to areas. It would be perhaps useful to establish baseline data for a team during off season and then target key areas of the season that are most demanding schedule or training wise to test for Iga.
Dr Tom Dawson, who comes from a Sports Medicine background and has lectured and published extensively led a great workshop on defining what data in sport actually is. Whilst times, reps and sleep are all regularly monitored, consider, impact of weather, academics, health, family, sponsors and media as all having the potential to have a great impact on performance. Whilst as scientists and coaches, we are very good at identifying areas that we feel are important and then attempting to analyse them, he then further to ask a great question - Where does your athlete get their data from? There is a continually growing amount of information available on the internet plus other athletes, coaches, articles and 'well wishers', all presenting data in the form of performance, opinion and coaching techniques. Whilst the coach may be providing feedback to the athlete in the best form they feel appropriate, the athlete is often comparing this and themselves to the other data sources that they receive.
After making the excellent point that "Why does iTunes know more about you than your doctor?" He then went on to demonstrate a new free online sports monitoring software called Elite Performance Network that he has been involved in developing which uses a 3 tiered social network as its structure to analyse information from the athlete, medical support and coaches. Whilst there are already a number of excellent free and commercial options for athlete monitoring available, this I believe the first one that 'learns' in a similar way that Itunes or Google does. Clearly social networking is not going away anytime soon, and whilst I believe that systems will never replace coaching, with ever increasing levels of data to manage, perhaps having a system that helps us by searching for trends in behaviour and data will help to compliment coaching?
A couple of additional short highlights from the conference.
Dr Karim Khan:
As as entertaining as always, Karim presented some frankly horrifying data on the cost to health of inactivity and how this is a greater cost to life than smoking, diabetes or obesity! He also highlighted the cost of inactivity; 1 day of total inactivity is an equivalent cost of smoking three cigarettes on your health. He finished his presentation with this excellent short film that is already gaining significant interest worldwide. Whilst the focus in primarily performance, for the young athletes who don’t 'make it' or for the majority of athletes who retire by 35, by consistently training, we are creating habits that will make massive positive impacts on their day to day health.
He also made the great point that Twitter is simplified Google. It was fascinating to see how Twitter was a live medium for not only feedback on presentations at the conference but also a means of delegates and those that had not been able to attend interacting.
Dr Marie-Elaine Grant
There is not a direct link between levels of pain from a tendinopathy and the actual pathology. Your athlete could be feeling significant pain and only be in a reactive stage or have a manageable level of pain and then tendon be in a degenerative state. Its important to use determine which stage the tendon is in and then provide appropriate guidance. She also highlighted that lack of Strength training, and in particular eccentric loading is often the cause of unsuccessful rehabilitation. In addition she highlighted the need for more proactive eccentric strength work in healthy athletes to prevent a tendinopathy.
Dr Fergus Connolly
I had long wanted to hear Fergus talk, as his reputation as a world class sport scientist consultant AND presenter is becoming well known. He had a great few points to consider how to maximise your sport science support.
1) If your shot your Sport Scientist in the morning, would it matter?!
2) Feedback of data to coaching and medical staff and players must be instant, not several hours later.
3) Coaching today is like (financial) trading. I feel that this point is very true. The financial implications not only within professional teams but also with funded athletes on Olympic programmes means that there is great scrutiny on performance.