A lot of time and money is being spent on technology at the collegiate, professional and Olympic levels of competitive sport. The current interest appears to be in evaluating an individual athlete’s level of readiness to perform. Coaches understand that performance can fluctuate on a daily basis, despite high levels of physical preparedness. This can be related to a variety of factors including, fatigue, stress, sleep quality, nutrition, nervous system potential, etc. Though a variety of tests for “readiness” exist that are cheap and relatively effective (i.e., non-fatiguing performance like a countermovement jump), many programs are dipping into their vast budgets to pay for expensive technology that purportedly provide novel insight regarding performance potential. Oftentimes the method these expensive tools use for determining this is hidden in a proprietary formula that is trademarked and inaccessible to the public. But we really need to ask ourselves if these tools provide more useful information than traditional measures.
A new study published ahead of print in the Journal of Sports Sciences evaluated the usefulness of an old fashioned and tried and true method of evaluating players training status. The researchers aimed to evaluate the impact of perceived wellness on external training load parameters (i.e., GPS analysis), and rating of perceived exertion throughout 15 training sessions in 36 Aussie football players. Every morning before training, the athletes completed a brief wellness questionnaire that had the athletes rate their perceived levels of sleep quality, fatigue, stress, mood and muscle soreness on a Likert-scale. GPS devices were used to evaluate external training load variables such as average speed, high speed running distance, player load and player load slow. RPE values were provided based on the CR-10 Borg scale.
The results showed that a Z-score of -1 for Wellness corresponded to reductions in both player load parameters compared to those with a positive Wellness Z-score. Athletes with a negative wellness response also had a lower average speed during sessions. Therefore, it appears that a simple, inexpensive tool such as a wellness questionnaire appears to provide meaningful insight on training output capabilities on a daily basis in team-sport athletes. So those of us coaches with limited budgets needn’t fret as wellness questionnaire can be administered for free via email or with paper, pencil and an excel spreadsheet.
Gallo, FT. et al. (2015) Pre-training perceived wellness impacts training output in Australian football players. Journal of Sport Sciences. Ahead of print.