Sports Therapy Community Streamed

Ep4 The secret world of monitoring players - Liam Hayes

June 01, 2020 Kristian Weaver Season 1 Episode 4
Sports Therapy Community Streamed
Ep4 The secret world of monitoring players - Liam Hayes
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Sports Therapy Community Streamed
Ep4 The secret world of monitoring players - Liam Hayes
Jun 01, 2020 Season 1 Episode 4
Kristian Weaver

In this episode I speak with Liam Hayes from Train My Athlete to discover the world of monitoring players.

If you want to Become An Unstoppable Sports Therapist then visit:
www.sportstherapycommunity.co.uk
 
 To find out more about Liam Hayes:
 Email: [email protected]

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode I speak with Liam Hayes from Train My Athlete to discover the world of monitoring players.

If you want to Become An Unstoppable Sports Therapist then visit:
www.sportstherapycommunity.co.uk
 
 To find out more about Liam Hayes:
 Email: [email protected]

Kristian Weaver:

Welcome to the sports therapy community streamed the place where sports therapy practitioners can get useful and actionable advice from industry leading experts from sports medicine to psychology to business. Here is your host sports therapist, exercise physiologist, and creator of the sports therapy community. Kristian Weaver. Do you know what goes on behind the scenes to monitor players? Hello, I'm Kristian Weaver and welcome to this episode with Liam Hayes. Today we're going to be talking about the secret world or maybe not so secret world of monitoring players. So Liam, can you tell us who you are and what you do?

Liam Hayes:

Thanks for having me on, Kristian. I'm Liam Hayes. I'm the founder of Train My Athlete and that is a data analytics platform and we analyze predominantly three types of data from GPS that the players are wearing. We monitor their training loads both remotely and at the training grounds , and then we monitor their wellness. And what we do is through some complex and some rather straightforward algorithms, we give the visualizations to the sports scientists or the backroom teams can understand what's going on with all of that data. We're represented through the football league predominantly and we launched in November of last year now. So we were gaining some nice traction and it's been a wonderful journey so far.

Kristian Weaver:

Great stuff. So often as a sports therapist, we get overwhelmed by the amount of analytical data and the amount of information that we're getting . So how are medical staff monitoring players?

Liam Hayes:

Well, I think it depends what standard that you're at and there are some pretty easy monitoring that you can apply from the very lowest levels if you, if you don't have the budget. But if I start with the elite, generally speaking , you've got your GPS statistics, so from, from the GPS pods, those clubs will be want to know how fast people are going, what type of distances they're covering. This is both in training and the game , and particular emphasis we're finding on high speed running. So how many of those, some people call them power plays or really high intense speeds are happening during a game. So I would say that's a bit emerging over the last decade or so and there's some really good GPS units that are on show at the moment that do do some awesome things and most of the calculations are done internally through those GPS units. So you can get a lot out of that data. I mean exclusively, if you a professional sports team, you're very likely to have invested now in GPS, it's just rather than a luxury, it's just become a central component. Um, I guess it's a little bit of big brother for the players I guess, but there really is no hiding ground. But I think there's a performance element that, but also there's the actual protecting the health of the athlete. Um, so that's, that's quite key. But it's certainly not stand alone , and it certainly shouldn't be used standalone. The wellness side of things with our platform in terms of usage, we're finding that that is something that's really key to the top clubs and that really can be broken down into , um, how well did they sleep. It could be by hours or quality , what their mood, and their energy levels ar e l i ke i f they've got any body soreness. Generally speaking through our platform for example, that's like a sliding scale that the players will answer. So they'll have a spectrum of colors from, from green to red, and they'll be able to slide depending on how they feel. And then we might have a body chart , um , that you can select , um, if they're feeling some DOMS after training or they're feeling tired, etc. So that's critical. And then there's , the final component of that that we're seeing is what they refer to as like an acute:chronic load. Um, so, so the training loads that are happening every day , um, and they're quite straightforward thing that anyone can do at home. If you're looking after you kind of Saturday league football team essentially that that could be applied by how many minutes that player has played. Um , then asking them a sessional RPE . So on a scale of one to 10, how hard that they found that much or session. And then if you times out together you get a set number, which is your arbitrary units for that day. And then you add those up over the course of seven days and then depending on how you want to do it, we divide it against the last 28 days as a rolling average. That tends to be the most common. But some people go for three weeks, over four weeks. Um, and then that figure gives you a number normally between one and three. Um, and depending what literature you read, generally speaking, there's a, there's a sweet spot. It might vary for different people. Some people might be used to being a little bit higher on the scale. But what it does give you a good indication is to just the basics of compared to what they did last week has there been a sudden spike in intensity. Um, and whilst it's not a guarantee that they'll get injured from that, it just gives a sports therapist, physiotherapists or scientists , whoever's looking at the data, just an idea that they might be predisposed to risk and particularly if they're sessional RPE , if they're saying they're nines and tens off the train and then it might be a good opportunity to look at recovery options , um, as , as well as trying to reduce their training load . Maybe depending on what stars season, generally in preseason you're going to naturally get a bit of spike. But I would say to anyone , uh , at the lowest form of the game regards to struggling with budgets, just get them doing an cheap chronic load through sessional RPE , um, and the minutes that they've played. So those keeners and looking at the research, the last six months, there's been a bit of criticism about acute:chronic load and how it's not this gold standard that we all we all go to. However, it doesn't change the fact that when you're on limited resources, I just think it's wonderful. I was, I'm a physiotherapist before I started this and I was looking after a women's football team and it just allowed me to make decisions. Um, and just the final point on all of that data , what you're looking for is just changes to the players averages and means, big shifts in what they're used to. If you're really keen and , and you've got an Excel spreadsheet handy, there are two scores that I'd recommend that you calculate. What is a Z calculation, off the top of my head, I think the equation is you set a baseline of what you expect. So let's just take sleep. For example. If you expect all of your players to get eight hours of sleep, you set your baseline and then you minus that from what their actual score is, please look this up guys. And then you divide it by the standard deviation. And when you get a big spike, you'll know. And then there's something called a STEN score, S T E N all capital letters. And you can take, when you have your Z score, you can apply as a STEN calculation to it, which is like the Z times two, times or plus 5.5. I can't remember off the top of my head. And that just gives a score of one to 10. So you can clearly see if 10 being really good, you can just clearly see changes. If someone's sleep is dotted around eight and then suddenly for the last week they've hit four hours sleep. Their STEN school would go from like nine or 10 down to four. And suddenly that would be like, okay, there's something that we need to do and you can apply STEN scores to any variables. So there's a couple of key nuggets there to look for. And um, whilst I love Train My Athlete and the visuals that the platform gives, sometimes an Excel spreadsheet is just as good and it's free so you can do those calculations. So , a long winded answer there Kristian, but hopefully just some little bits and bobs that we use at Train My Athlete. Um, and we can plot those on like radar graphs, which are really cool. Um , to give you the visualization . So there are a few things that the clubs that we work for are doing and that's at professional level. So anyone who can replicate that in semi professional world would be doing quite well.

Kristian Weaver:

And Train My Athlete is at the higher end of what sports teams are using at this moment in time; however I'm the same as you. When I came from women's football actually it was an Excel spreadsheet start off with looking at all those wellness scores, making sure that we tried to calculate that sort of acute work ratio, acute:chronic work ratio and so that we actually had some idea of what was happening with our players. And so yeah, they're are basic forms. Obviously Train My Athlete takes that to almost a whole new level. You did mention then about the high speed running aspect and there have been links with that to hamstring injury. So in terms of what you see coming through your data, is there any links that you've seen between injury risks and associated data that you see?

Liam Hayes:

Yeah, I think it is. Um, it's the most significant from looking at our data predictor. So high speed running for a particular athlete. If they are, if there's been a big momentum shift from what is their baseline, then me , whatever way you look at it, they're average. Um, we're seeing that there's a significant increase in risk of injury. So what we see after a game , what will be really important to clubs will be to see if anyone's shot up from that. So if you are , um, if you a team and your back's against the wall and you're having to defend resolutely and do lots of high speed runnings to try and either win the ball back or protect , uh , protecting any kind of low block , we tend to find that it's really important for clubs to see if they've gone well above their average. And what , what you find then is their recovery will be completely different from other squad members. Um, and that's just because the risk of injury. So it'd be really, really important that those players get really good recovery because if they don't get that, then what we're seeing is that that link between excessive high speed, running away from the norm , an injury not necessarily hamstrings in terms of the data that we're seeing. Um, lower limb generally. So it hamstrings predominantly , what's affected but , it just really is an awareness that if you just predisposed to an injury of some sort , um, and , and just ensuring that those players get good recovery , um, and acute:chronic load calculation can be applied to that as well. So you can do your rolling in average the last week over the last 28 days, whatever you want to do. Um, but, but there absolutely is a link between high speed running and injury of some sort.

Kristian Weaver:

Okay. Great. And in terms of that recovery methods that you see, the teams that you work with employ, is that normally a rest day or does it change to be in some more active recovery? What kind of methods they use to try and bring those values down to ensure that players aren't getting injured?

Liam Hayes:

We're seeing in the higher higher leagues. Um, so say, let's just say with , with our data that we've got kind of league one and up does tend to be more active recovery. Um, often I think in these situations , the day after a game is probably governed by what the manager wants. Um, so some managers particularly , um, the more elite, so a lot of the premier league clubs will come in the day after a game for some sort of active recovery. Um, so I think that's common. I think if you have the ability to do that prescribing some active recovery tends to be the best way. Um, and if you have it focusing on those heart rate zones, so ensuring that if it is active recovery it is recovery and you're staying very much at conversational pace and in those green doing heart rate zones , um, but a rest day for a kind of semi semi professional amateur is good as well. I think just ensuring that you get an across messages of good hydration, potentially arguably a stretching routine and maybe even just, just a walk around the block. Um, if they can, if they don't have work commitments. Um, but I'd say at the more professional elite side of the game active recovery is what we're seeing. Yeah.

Kristian Weaver:

And obviously Train My Athlete had quite an important part to play considering that players haven't been able to be monitored, monitored necessarily within clubs at this moment in time. So what have you been doing with Train My Athlete in order to keep a tab on what players are doing and have medical staff can actually monitor what's going on outside of the club?

Liam Hayes:

Well, just not to bore you guys too much, but when I first started , um , it was because when I was working in sport, I was just sick. When they went off for off season, I'd create these Excel spreadsheets or emails and the spreadsheets would just be left in the changing rooms at the end and they wouldn't really and, it'd be WhatsApp trying to track people about their weight and what they're doing. So I really just started Train My Athlete version one as a way just to put all of the plans and nutrition plans when they're in the off season. Um , we since developed the analytics platform but, that key ingredient during COVID 19 has just been so key because normally in a professional club, your wellness scores, don't know if it was the same for you Kristian, sports scientists and sports therapists like to do that face to face, asking the question face to face, how's your sleep, how's your mood, how's your energy? And then making that judgment because , um, the skill of that clinician is really important in knowing, actually I think you shouldn't do too much or I think you're okay to do quite a lot. Um, but we can't do that and it's not recommended to do that. And , and some guys are in different countries or, or just a way with different types of equipment. So it's been quite nice and we've seen a of traction from clubs using us purely because we can monitor players remotely and all of that data gets fed back. So the easiest way it's done is through questionnaires every morning. Um, um, depending on, on what the club wants to do, that could be a Corona virus screening questionnaire asking about temperature, the cough, their breathing, that will trigger an alert if it meets a certain threshold and alert the club doctor , um, that they need to do something or need to take a conversation further. The same with the wellness. All of that is populated and it all comes up in nice visuals in the system, color-coded so you can get a real glimpse on how people's stress levels are, how their sleep levels on mood, etc. And then like when we first devised the app, all of their workout data and all of their nutrition data , um, and it's been really interesting taking a look at that remotely because what w e're s eeing is that players can't replicate the stresses of training or a much day at home. Different resources generally a re l ocked d own. S o if you don't have a gym at home, it's very difficult. U m, and we talked about high speed r unning earlier and it's those that tend to not be able to be replicated. So we're seeing a lot of cardiovascular type workouts going out for long runs, which is wonderful. Um, but if you talk about specific adaptations or replications of a game environment then it's just a small aspect cardiovascular and actually what medics and sports therapists now who are getting people back into training, I'm sure we'll have anxieties about is trying to then get those sports specific demands back into those players, but in a way that doesn't create a huge spike in intensity like we just spoke about earlier. I guess the only thing that helps them is with Train My athlete is at least it's giving them... So player X has done predominantly cardiovascular, so he's cardiovascularly quite strong. He hasn't done much sprint work or speed work. So potentially that might be a focus of some of our trainings in a safe, in a safe manner. Um, so I think that's why it's been quite key and sometimes it's very hard to, to ascertain that data through an app. So , um, we'll have manual entry, just simple manual entry. So if you don't, you've got WhatsApp, you can ask the players what they've been doing and , and put it in maybe a spreadsheet so you can maybe do a pie chart or something to find out what they've been doing. Some of the clubs have been sending players home. They've had the luxury of sending players home with GPS. So the GPS just record straight into there into the system so they know exactly what, what type of fitness they're doing. Um, a lot of gym work , um, strength and power work. So it'd be really interesting in the elite side of the game , what these first few games are like. I know that Bundesliga has comeback. I haven't particularly paid too much attention. I see a couple of highlights. I don't know what type of pace it's been at , but I think any of you guys out there looking after the players coming back now in the UK, I think those who manage the injury list the best will probably be the more successful, I know a lot of kind of non-league and below the season they're over , but if you kind of in some of the professional leagues now, it'd be really interested in how the injury list occurs because there is just no way of getting around the issues. Preseasons is only six weeks and you can spread game training minutes out across the squad. Now you're fighting relegation potentially or promotion and etc as money on the line. Um, you want your best players playing and if one or two of those dropouts through injury there's a bit trouble. Um, so it just goes to show though that, and I'll say this as, as the owner of an analytics platform , data should be a h and r ail, and not a h andcuff. Nothing should replace the skill of a sports therapist, use that data and think there might be a theme or trend there, but use your skill and knowledge, use that human element of looking at that player, whatever it be. He's saying that he's fatigued and 10 out of 10 and he's holding the conversation and laughing , laughing around the changing rooms or, or, or the other way round, he looks absolutely shattered, but he's saying he's okay because he's scared of losing out of a squad , etc. And I think the skill, the skill of the clinician, if you can get data that just helps the skill of the clinician, that's for me, Ius doing our job. But yeah, even if you've just got sessional RPE to go with, use that and then just use it s ubtly and then just apply your skill. U h, a nd, and you won't go wrong. Like I say, I say that as someone who loves analytics and visualizations, but, u m, never, ever will we see analytics be the sole decision maker. I think t hat'd be a very sad day.

Kristian Weaver:

I think there's the element there that you touched upon is that sort of the arts of science and its application and very much the experienced clinician being able to judge a player at based upon analytical data, but also on the player that is standing in front of them or potentially running in front of them and how we can actually assess that player visually as well. So I think you've sort of hits some nails on the head, it's nice to hear someone who owns the analysis side of things to actually say that we do still need a sports therapist to be involved.

Liam Hayes:

100%. I think , um, I think it would never, ever get to that point ever. So I think we'll always need the skill of sports therapists and, and actually it's a, it's a reverse because the skill of the sports therapist and the knowledge of a sports therapist advances the analytics , evidence-based and the science base and, and what analytics will always change, hopefully in accordance to what the sports therapists, what scientists are doing and what trends they're finding is really important analytics. So , um, so yeah, it's , it's very much playing second fiddle to the sports therapist.

Kristian Weaver:

Okay . That's great. Thank you very much. And I think that , um, even if you work in clinical practice, there are things which you can sort of take from our conversation. You can start to apply with the patients who you see within your own clinical practice and how you actually continue to monitor them. Maybe it might just be on a weekly basis or biweekly basis in order to ensure that you are meeting the targets of their return to sport as well. So Liam, if anyone wants to find out more about you or your business, where could they go?

Liam Hayes:

If you could give me an email, [email protected] I'm quite active on LinkedIn as well, so reach out to me, Liam Hayes on, on LinkedIn. Um , and it'd be great to hear from anyone who's interested, both just on the analytics side generally, or wants to see a little bit about Train My Athlete.

Kristian Weaver:

Ok then, thank you for coming on the podcast. I'll make sure that all the contact details are within the show notes and I'm sure we'll get you into the sports therapy community platform to speak to our members and answer some of their questions as well. So thank you very much for your time. Join the most powerful and professional network specifically for sports therapists. Visit sports therapycommunity.co.uk.

Speaker 4:

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