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Performance monitoring

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Author: Will Mbanga, Posted: Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 09:00

Whether you are a weekend warrior or a competitive sports-person, the pressure is always on to perform better, win or achieve at the highest level of your sport or activity.

Over the past 25-30 years, there has been a rapid increase in the application of sport science and technology to the arena of performance, as well as recreational sport and fitness. Access to good coaching, recovery protocols, decent equipment and facilities, appropriate nutrition, a strong work ethic and good genetic potential are all important ingredients, which do not operate in isolation.

However, it has become more evident that performance monitoring technology is an important bridge between the science and reality of training and preparing for performance.

As a coach, I’m often asked about the best tech gadgets by my clients. It can be quite overwhelming and probably more so when you don’t have the requisite knowledge to make an informed decision.

While your budget and performance requirements are probably the best determinants, for the majority of people, being able to measure heart rate output and time-distance-speed are probably the most important parameters.

Combining real-time and post activity data

Technology can provide the more serious recreational athlete with game changing value through the combination of real-time and post activity data to help monitor effort, progress and performance.

This information can then be used to make informed decisions about future training and nutrition/recovery needs.

The various components of performance monitoring and analysis (e.g. GPS enabled watches and pedometers, as well as apps and programs which drive the technology) have the capability to calculate and capture a range of performance metrics in real time, to store, interpret and evaluate, and to download to a cloud or other device for the user to determine next steps.

Common metrics to consider tracking

Here are some of the more common metrics which the average person might wish to capture as part of their training and development for performance or recreational sport:
Heart rate monitoring: enables you to monitor work rate and training load, and manage fatigue.
Testing and assessment: sport specific and general fitness applications.
Wellness monitoring: being able to monitor mental and physical well-being (sleep, nutrition, mental-emotional states, etc.) and training loads to ensure maximum performance.

For more advanced athletes, where spending a bit more money on performance monitoring technology is of benefit, here are some additional metrics to consider:
Load metrics: multi-dimensional forces (e.g. collisions, jump speed, muscle force output), cardiovascular endurance and metabolic output.
File and media sharing: benefits long-term tracking and management of injury risk profiles.
Workout builders: use of recorded metrics to produce future training plans.

By learning and understanding the variety and uses of available sport science and technology, there are multiple performance and injury reduction benefits to be gained for all types of performers.

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