More and more research is finding a strong link between training time missed due to illness or injury and competition outcome in team-sport athletes. Essentially, a team is less likely to be successful with a greater number of training hours missed from athletes. However, it is unclear if this is a result of key players being limited in competitions, lack of consistency in practicing technical and tactical work in preparation for a match, or lack of fitness qualities due to insufficient training time. Since performance in team-sport is multi-factorial, it is hard to attribute wins and losses to one particular variable. The effect of training time lost due to injury on performance in individual sports such as sprinting and throwing has not been studied but may provide some unique insight applicable to team sports.
A new study published in the October issue of the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport investigated the impact of training modification (as a result of injury) on performance achievements in elite athletes. Thirty-three elite track and field athletes were monitored across a 5-year period. Every week throughout the observation period, training status for each athlete was recorded (i.e., if they were hurt, sick or cleared to train normally). Relationships between weeks of training completed, number of times an athlete was sick or hurt, and competition performance was assessed. Ultimately, the researchers wanted to determine the optimal threshold of completed training weeks that facilitated the best chance of successful performance at competition.
The results showed that athletes who completed greater than 80% of planned training weeks were 7 times more like to achieve a given performance goal at competition. Additionally, the athlete’s availability to training accounted for 86% of successful seasons. Interestingly, the researchers found that most new injuries (30%) occurred within the first 4-weeks of the preparatory period. Roughly 50% of illnesses occurred within 2 months of a competition event. Importantly, every time a training week was modified as a result of injury or illness, the chances of a successful performance was reduced significantly. This study highlights the importance of appropriate training and monitoring strategies to ensure athletes stay healthy enough to not miss training.
Shearer, D. A., Sparkes, W., Northeast, J., Cunningham, D. J., Cook, C. J., & Kilduff, L. P. (2016). Measuring Recovery: An Adapted Brief Assessment of Mood (BAM+) Compared to Biochemical and Power Output Alterations.Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.