Data supports a multi-professional coaching team

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To succeed, Finnish top-level sport needs a world-class training environment, multi-professional expertise and state-of-the-art sports data. The men’s artistic gymnastics team has access to all of this at the Urhea facilities at the National Olympic Training Center in Helsinki.

According to the head coach of the national team Timo Holopainenthe conditions of the Urhea campus are perfect for the artistic gymnastics training team.

“Before the completion of the Urhea campus in 2021, we had to use several different training centers, our experts worked in different places and travel took a lot of time. Now we have access to the same gym every day and can focus on training without any distractions. »

The excellent training conditions are complemented by an expert support network operating from the same premises.

“In 2020, around the coaching team, I formed a group of multi-professional experts including a specialist in sports nutrition, a psychological coach, a physiotherapist, a doctor, a specialist in dual courses and an expert in physical coaching. Now they are all there, at your fingertips.

The expert team meets on a monthly basis to discuss the status of the coaching team. The exchange of information is facilitated by the 360° training app developed by Tietoevry, which the team tested to monitor wellness data.

“The software works like a phone app, to which the device manufacturer’s sensor sends athlete wellness data, such as pulse, sleep and recovery. The app also includes a survey, which allows athletes to give updates on how they are feeling,” says Holopainen.

Using data to improve sleep quality

The app helps the team of experts keep up to date with the overall situation of the athletes, says the sports psychologist Tatja Holm who is responsible for the psychological coaching of the team.

“Data helps us see the big picture and focus on the most relevant issues at any given time.

When the athletes on the artistic gymnastics team responded to the daily survey for an intensive 2-week period, the data revealed sleep-related issues.

“We know that intensive training increases the need for sleep. Sleep quality also affects things like the ability to concentrate, which is important in all sports. When the survey revealed difficulties related to sleep, we spoke with the athletes about the importance of sleep from the point of view of high performance sports. We shared research information related to sleep and discussed the ways sleep can affect a person’s recovery, development, and mental state.

“The survey allowed us to discuss the issue with which the team had struggled, especially during the sports camps. Stress can deprive an athlete of sleep or impair the quality of sleep. Talking about the issue allowed us to identify methods to better manage sleep quality.

Data reveals phenomena, trends and causalities

For the sports nutrition specialist of the coaching staff Laura Wayone of the main advantages of the application is that it can detect problems, which do not necessarily appear in everyday life.

“Data monitoring makes it easier to spot trends related to recovery, sore muscles, sleep, coping and mood, as an athlete can become blind to their own situation in daily life. the great team spirit and open team atmosphere, not all issues are discussed in face-to-face conversations.When the athlete is left alone with his phone, he has to think more about how he will answer the survey.

“At best, the data can help identify long-term trends and phenomena as well as discern cause and effect between nutrition and well-being, for example. Without the correct data, we can look for the reasons for the problem in the wrong places.

As for Manner’s specialty, sports nutrition, surveys aren’t a viable way to track progress because they don’t produce reliable data.

“According to research, finding information about diet through surveys is extremely difficult and imprecise. Things we can monitor and know to be relevant include injuries, pain, sleep, disease symptoms , energy levels and adaptation If there are issues with more than one of these things, that is a clear indication that I need more athlete diet information via an electronic food diary , for example.

360° Training supports the daily lives of athletes and coaches

According to Manner, the advantage of 360° training app is that it can simultaneously display data from different sources.

“For example, when survey data and pulse data reside in the same system, the athlete and coach don’t need to waste time connecting to different data systems to collect data. Sharing data also helps the entire coaching team decide what needs immediate attention and correction and who are the right people needed for the job.For the athlete, it is also often easier to deal with. with one person instead of seeing four different experts.

For Manner, the benefits of the app also include the ability to measure effectiveness and scientific research.

“We are often asked how we can measure the effectiveness of what we do. For example, it is difficult to prove the impact of dietary guidelines on daily life and athlete performance. But if the investigation revealed problems with coping, recovery, or performance, and things got better once the nutrition-related issues were resolved, it’s pretty safe to assume it was at least a part of the problem.

“We’ve only been using the app for a short time, but the data it gave us has been good material for scientific research. We need more sport-related science as athletes and the operational environment change. We need to find ways to generate new data and identify causality, for example, between injury and sport.

According to Manner, data monitoring should become a natural part of an athlete’s daily life.

“Responding to the survey should not be a frustrating task for the athlete, especially if their advantage is unclear. The motivation for entering the information must come from the athlete himself. One way of looking at it is that the data allows the various experts on the coaching staff to provide better assistance to the athlete.

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