Fatigue monitoring is characterised by using various techniques in order to examine the physiological and psychological fatigue accumulated from training and competing in sport. This is a particularly important tool for coaches, sport scientists, and other practitioners alike due to the fact that high-levels of fatigue can inhibit proper adaption to training and hinder performance in competition. Therefore, actively monitoring fatigue levels in athletes can provide important feedback needed to adjust training in order to improve overall performance.
There are several ways to monitor fatigue through different subjective (e.g. questionnaires) or objective (e.g. blood lactate) measures. Recently, much research has attempted to assess the validity and reliability of many of these measures (e.g. wellness questionnaires). While many practitioners have developed well-rounded fatigue monitoring programmes, there is still a huge demand for more research to verify the best methods for tracking fatigue.
Acute:Chronic Workload Ratio
Monitoring of training- and match-loads is imperative to enhance performance and prevent injury. An effective monitoring protocol can provide important feedback to assist in the planning and periodisation of training, optimise physical condition, and avoid injury. One such method which can provide this important ‘snapshot’ is the acute: chronic workload ratio. The acute:chronic workload ratio is comprised of an athlete’s ‘fitness’ and ‘fatigue’, and can be calculated using either the rolling average (RA) model or the exponentially weighted moving average (EWMA) model. The actual value presented by the acute: chronic workload ratio has different implications, and can assist practitioners in understanding the preparedness of an athlete, the relative injury risk of an athlete from day-to-day, and therefore, with carefully planned intervention, can help to prevent injury.
Body Composition Testing
Body composition is of interest in fields of both health and sporting performance. In health, body composition has long been of interest, potentially more so with the excessive fat mass evident in obese populations, and the limited skeletal muscle mass in the elderly. In athletic performance, changes in body composition such as reduced fat mass and increased fat-free mass are often highlighted as determinants of successful performance, and the target of multiple interventions. Over the years, several methods of body composition measurement have been suggested and used, each method likely to have application in certain scenarios, with a trade-off usually occurring between accuracy and reliability, and cost and practicality.
“Bio-banding is the process of grouping athletes based on attributes associated with growth and maturation, rather than chronological age (e.g. under-15s)” . Advocates of bio-banding state that restricting the differences associated with maturity variance (e.g. size, strength, and skill) will result in greater equality in training and competition, and could potentially help reduce the risk of injury among young athletes .
Children of the same chronological age vary considerably in biological maturation, where we can see that some individuals reach maturity before or after their counterparts. Because the timing of individual maturation can have great implications for training, competition, and talent identification, it is important to develop an effective method of assessing young athletes in which they are not subject to a maturity bias .