Friday, October 1, 2010

Now What?

Now What?

By Vern Gambetta
You have max heart rate, resting heart rate, and heart rate variability. You have total distance moved in a practice. You have blood lactate during and post workout. So you have pages of spreadsheets filled with numbers, now what do you do with this data? How can you translate all these random numbers into useable information? This is the million-dollar question. It is not a matter of what you can monitor, it is what you can use and interpret. There is an explosion of technologies available today that enable us to monitor virtually any parameter we want to, but before we go further down this path we need to take a step back and ask why? On one level it is very straightforward 1) We need to get accurate feedback to guide and shape the training process and 2) We need to understand individual response and adaptation to various types, volumes and intensities of training.

On the next level we need to determine the absolute need to know information that will help us accomplish those two objectives. Monitoring more parameters is not the answer, just because it measureable does not mean it is meaningful. You need to ask yourself is the data helping to make your athletes better? Can you translate the numbers into actions that will significantly impact the athletes training? If you find yourself inundated with random numbers without context then you need to step back and ask yourself why?

I love data, it is interesting and challenging to find meaning in data you gather. But and there is a big but here – have you lost sight of the forest for the trees. You can get caught up in generating random numbers that you take your eye off the ball. You need to watch the athlete as a person, as an individual, how they handle the stress of training and competition. Closely observe body language. Ask them how they feel. Educate them to read their bodies and how they react to training stress. Put the focus squarely back on Hu, the human element, not the technologies and the subsequent numbers.

Don't be a mad scientist, be a coach. Use technology to measure what is meaningful and appropriate. Less is more. Focus on the need to know and stop there. Look closely at the tools available to help you do this. How much time do you have? How much help do you have? Then carefully choose how and what you are going to monitor. Then have a plan to turn that data into information that you can use to modify or change your training. Remember just because it is measurable does not mean it is meaningful.

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