With a focus of what athletes are physically capable of, athletic capacity measures the current and potential output of athlete fitness, power, strength and balance. Encompassing workload, recovery and the physiology of physical development, it provides sport-specific understanding of raw physical demands of performance at the highest level.
Workload and recovery focuses on the knife-edge balance between the amount and intensity of training and injury risk. Whether through the daily monitoring of athlete capabilities, tracking total workload in training or the science of recovery we complete research to design weekly training. The science of recovery is taking on greater importance as sleep, stretching and balance all contribute to an athlete’s ability to perform at their physical peak.
Physical development is the physiology science which develops understanding of sport specific athletic demands. By testing lung capacity, muscle activation and heart response, programs which understand an individual strengths and weaknesses relative to elite level athletes are developed.
Recently Completed Athletic Capacity Projects
Training vs. Competition Workload (Women’s Tennis)
Redesigning training to accurately reflect competition
With the goal of understanding the specific movement demands of college tennis, inertial measurement units were used to classify movements as low, medium and high intensity to better understand competition demands. This information was compared to training data to address differences as coaches sought to increase the specificity of training to better align with competition demands.
Key Finding: Competition matches had more ‘high’ and ‘low’ impacts when compared to more ‘medium’ impacts in training. This information has been used to change training to better reflect the stop and start nature of competition to ensure athletes are as prepared as possible to succeed. Interestingly, the return of serve was the most physically impactful task for the lower legs.
Coach + Athlete Practical Implication: Adapting training to the physical demands of the sport also benefits the skill learning of athletes. By representing competition in training, we better prepare for the moments that matter.
Position-Specific Workload in Training and Competition for Fitness Gains (Women’s Soccer)
Evolving fitness training to account for position specific demands
To build on the team’s success, the coaching staff is increasing the specialization of physical training and physical fitness for each position group. To address this, detailed data to understand match fitness specific to team tactics was measured using inertial measurement units. These units provided data on steps counts, step intensities and movement patterns based on tactics, opposition and time left in the game to understand the unique fitness demands of collegiate soccer. The pairing of match and training demands provided a blueprint to shape training design during both pre-season and in-season to ensure athletes were physically prepared for the season ahead.
Key Finding: In games, athletes are constantly moving, taking a very large number of small, low intensity steps throughout the game. ‘Never stop moving’ is a feature that was applied across all field-based training to better prepare athletes for the physical demands of competition.
Coach + Athlete Practical Implication: Understanding the demands of competition is crucial to help design training.
Measured Workload by Position - Workload in Training and Games (Football)
Using data to improve player preparation, training and recovery
Completed in multiple steps, the ‘Catapult’ GPS system has been used to track the Memphis Football team through the 2019 season. In collaboration with the strength and conditioning staff, an extended analysis was completed during the pre-season, spring training, fall ball, summer workouts and throughout the season to understand the specific training demands across the various phases of the season and ensure smooth transitions between phases.
The GPS analysis allowed understanding of total work done broken into time, distance, accelerations and decelerations, high intensity running, body to body contacts and throw counts for quarterbacks to accurately detail every training session's total training load. Data helped shape daily training length and intensity, weekly loading rates as well as track fatigue levels to inform recovery sessions. A detailed understanding of athlete demands in the form of daily, weekly and monthly reports ensured coaches were informed in the prescription of training. This project compiled data from multiple programs nationwide to understand how Memphis Football can use this data in a smarter manner to gain an edge on their competitors.
Key Finding: The development on an in-house algorithm allows coaches to accurately design training to balance total work and session intensity to ensure athletes get the right training dose across the week and throughout the season, ensuring that the team peaks at the most important moments.
Coach + Athlete Practical Implication: Combining data with coach intuition allows the most accurate structure of practice for both day-to-day and across the season.