Eddie Jones, Marcello Lippi, Marco Cardinale and many others were the lecturer at the 2015 Festival of Athletics Coaching held in Rome last weekend.
I had the luck to participate along the CTO and founder of Beast Technologies Tommaso Finadri who held a panel himself about the growing importance of wearable technologies in coaching and training.
Many were the topics touched in the various lectures, but definitely the discussions about data and technology were the ones who got most attention. Coaches are paying more and more attention to what instruments and technologies are telling them, to make informative decisions who will make an impact on athlete’s development.
In order to take correct decision is important to analyze in detail the current situation to find the points of intervention. When Eddie Jones took over the job as head coach of the Japan rugby team found a team with a 40% record in test matches and winning-less for the last 24 years in the world cup. He knew he needed to understand what was the problem with rugby in Japan and came up with three area of intervention after interviewing many coaches around the country: Japanese players are small, they train to much and they lack of leadership. From here he decided to work psychologically on improving leadership skills, reduced the time of practice sessions but increase intensity and worked on speed and strength to overcome the size problem. All the process was monitored constantly with the use of instruments like accelerometers and heart rate monitors (they even had a Beast sensor unit). His analytical training method brought the team to an unthinkable win against South Africa in the first game of the world cup few weeks ago.
A good analysis of the as is situation should put the coaching team on the right track for success but it’s constant monitoring that will guide the staff in making the right decision and correction to the plan. Marco Cardinale during his work with the British Olympic team found out that his athletes were losing heat from the moment they warmed up to the moment they were starting the race. To respond to the problem he decided to adopt heated blankets and pants. His project started before the winter Olympics in Vancouver with skeleton racers and got team GB a gold, after the ananlysis proved that the system was effective, heated equipment was also used with the glorious cycling team in London and the British pants became famous also in the press.
Wearables are also making a big impact on coaching, as I wrote also in previous articles, GPS devices are widely used in many sports, and so do heart rate monitors, A new trend is the application of accelerometers supported by movement recognition software to strength training. I recently reflected a lot to how those technologies could completely modify the gym environment and the data collection process by staff and coaches. Since today the athlete could feel but couldn’t see and the coach could see but couldn’t feel, technology can fill the gap and support the coach in making an objective valuation of the athlete’s progresses.
Innovation is moving fast, my advice to coaches is not to be afraid of new technologies but to embrace them in order to make data-driven decisions and also to comunicate with the younger generations who are deeply connected digitally.