How can amateur athletes best use elite-level technology?
Elite athletes have access to teams of coaches and sport scientists, who use sports technology to drive performance. But amateur athletes can also benefit from the latest tech, too.
Sports technology: It’s not just for the professionals
Have you ever wanted to test yourself like an English Premier League footballer? In episode 68 of the Science for Sport Podcast, Aman Singh Shergill tells you exactly how.
The majority of the podcast discusses how players at the elite level profit from world-class sport science support, and how these scientists need to communicate with expert precision to improve individual performances.
However, the real gold was saved for those who don’t have access to sport scientists, massive budgets, and fancy equipment. Towards the end of the podcast, Shergill takes us through exactly how any athlete at any level can apply the same scientific philosophy to maximise their results.
“The scientific process can remain the same,” Shergill said.
Use the tech to test what needs to be tested
The first thing you’ll need to do is work out what you want to improve and find a test for that quality. In the podcast, Shergill uses the example of an aerobic test so you can develop a monstrous engine that will help you run your opponents off their feet.
So when you have your specific physical quality and a good test for it, you’ll need to perform the test itself. In this example, a 2km time trial might be used. You’ll need to work out exactly how far 2km is, so unless you’re going to break into an athletics track (we don’t recommend this), you might want to find a quiet place and use the GPS on your phone to work out the exact distance. When you’ve done this, you’ll need to take your test and go balls-to-the-wall for those 2000m. Don’t forget to set your timer, or you’ll be fuming by the end of your run!
After lying on the floor for a while questioning your life choices, you can calculate your maximal aerobic speed (MAS). But what is MAS? Remember back to when you were a kid at school and asked “when will I ever need to use this in real life?”, well my friend, speed = distance/time, and this is real life. So divide your 2000m by your time in seconds and you’ll get your MAS.
This is your baseline measurement – all you need to do now is to plan a training intervention. Luckily there are tonnes of resources online for this. You could also ask your friendly local S&C coach or sport scientist, or devour some of the fantastic information provided at scienceforsport.com. In this example, you’ll probably want to find an aerobic interval training plan.
Now for the difficult part – you actually have to follow the plan for a number of weeks! Yes, do the work.
Now the hard work really begins…
After your training intervention, let’s say eight weeks, you can retest. This is the essence of all sport science, even at the highest levels. Yes, the secret is that simple. They just test, make a training intervention, and retest to see how it worked.
“It’s just about measuring, having a training plan, and retesting within a certain time frame,” Shergill said.
So now all you have to do is that exact same 2km run again, and record your time. If you improved, happy days! Give your coach a compliment and ask for the next program. If not, it’s back to the drawing board, and time to ask some reflective questions.
Using this example, you can see precisely how elite sport scientists use basic scientific principles to improve athletic performance at the highest levels, and how you can use the same principles to improve your performance too!
Lessons from the English Premier League, and more
If you want to hear more about how Shergill applies this in the English Premier League, check out the podcast using the link below.
You can download the podcast on any of the big hosting services, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify, or just use this link: https://scienceforsport.fireside.fm/68
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