A new research project at Northumbria University may have important implications for the world of football (soccer).
Just days after England manager Fabio Capello blamed tiredness for his team's performance in the World Cup, new research is underway to give coaches and managers a better overall picture of a player's training status -- the net balance between a player's current performance capacity and fatigue levels.
In a study part-funded by Newcastle United Football Club, PhD student Richard Akenhead is using new technology to better assess a player's training load and fitness levels.
Richard is using the latest technology including GPS and miniaturised accelerometers to get real-time data on training load and measure the stresses and strains of training.
Richard said: "Through GPS we can monitor the speed players are travelling, as well as the distance and direction they travel, how often they sprint and the density of high speed running to recovery.
"We'll be investigating the type and duration of exercise during both training and games and the consequences that has for subsequent performance capacity.''
In his research Richard is designing a battery of tests which will include performance testing and the monitoring of physiological measures including heart rate variability which will be used twice a week to assess players' fitness and fatigue levels throughout the season. The 15-minute battery, which will be conducted before training, will provide staff and players with a more holistic view of their training status, allowing for informed decisions to be made on the intensity of the day's training.
Currently there is limited data exploring the physiological demands placed on elite level footballers and the effects that training and conditioning activities can have on football-related performance standards throughout the season.
The research is set to have a major direct impact on the working practices of players at Newcastle United and potentially football leagues throughout the world.
Richard said: "I've always wanted to carry out research that has a strong, practical focus. This research will have real world-wide application in elite sport in producing results and knowledge that will inform athletes and coaches as to the optimum interaction between training load and recovery, therefore preventing over-training as well as the decreased performance and increased risk of injury associated with it.''
Richard, who graduated from Northumbria with a First Class Honours Degree in Applied Sport and Exercise Science in 2009, was selected for the PhD Studentship from more than 140 candidates from throughout the country.
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