The NSW Institute of Sport is renowned for producing world-class swimmers through the Institute’s coaching, performance support and innovating training environments.
Stephen Crowcroft is a physiologist at the NSWIS who has been working with NSW based swim squads. Part of his work is aiming to refine the use of athlete monitor systems to assist coaches in the prescription of training to improve performances.
We caught up with Stephen to discuss the training monitoring program for our swimmers.
Can you give a run down on the new training monitoring that you’re doing with our swimmers?
The training monitoring that we have incorporated into the swimmer’s training programs involves quantifying what type and how much training the swimmers are currently doing, along with aiming to understand how each athlete is responding to training through non-invasive physiological (resting heart rate, heart rate variability and standardised warm up protocols) and perceptual measures (rate of fatigue, recovery, soreness, etc.).
The recent analysis that we have been able to complete on these measures has helped to provide insight into the normal variations of these measures and provide coaches with a greater understanding of how their athlete may perform.
How does this differ from how you were monitoring the swimmer’s training before?
These concepts are not necessarily new, but rather integrating a number of commonly used measures to understand the likelihood of performance changing either positively or negatively based on the monitoring measures.
It is also to promote awareness about how athletes are tolerating training demands and their readiness to perform.
What technology is involved?
There is fairly minimal technology involved, it is mostly completed through our Athlete Management System (AMS) or a similar questionnaire that athletes can access on their mobile phones. Also through using heart rate monitoring for morning resting heart rate.
How has this positively benefited the swimmers and coaches?
Coaches should benefit from this work, as it is an additional tool in which they are able to use to inform decisions around training prescription based upon how their athletes are tolerating training demands and the likelihood of either having an improved or decreased performance beyond expected performance times.
Have you noticed an improvement of the training practices of the swimmers and coaching staff as a result of the training monitoring?
One of the key improvements is the awareness and progression of training prescription particularly during heavy training periods. Through using training monitoring, coaches have been able to gain greater feedback of what they have prescribed to their athletes and are better able to assess if this aligns with how the swimmers are reporting training.
Have the coaching staff/athletes been receptive to the new monitoring system?
With education around training monitoring and AMS, coaches are finding how this can provide additional information about their athletes’ responses to training and provide extra information to coaches to inform decision making around training prescription.
Is the NSWIS a supportive environment to experiment with different training techniques and technologies?
Yes, the NSWIS provides a unique opportunity for service providers to develop strong working relationship with coaches and athletes. Through these relationships, questions arise in training that allow the opportunity for staff to work together finding answers through promoting innovation, trialling different training methods and incorporating recent advances in sport science technology.