How to take the first steps in working with a GPS tracking system? How to interpret the data from the GPS through the prism of our team’s playing style and does quantity always translate into quality in the game? We talk about the parameters that are worth paying attention to, as well as how to integrate technical and tactical elements with motor accents. You think such a combination is impossible? Nothing could be more wrong.
1. Organisation of work with the monitoring system
From the perspective of the training staff, it is important to assign a strength and conditioning coach or another person who will be responsible for the technical and substantive operation of the GPS system. His tasks will include: distribution of transmitters before and after the training unit, data reading, taking care of the equipment technical condition, preparation and data analysis. Entrusting this role to a competent person will help us save more valuable time that we will be able to devote to work related to the functioning of the team.
Getting to know your own coaching skills
In order to start working on the basis of monitoring data, we need to get to know our own coaching skills, so we can use them in planning individual training microcycles for players. The first contact with the system will give us an answer to how the players react to the training measures we submit. We will find out if a given game on a specific field and in a given time will allow us to obtain the required number of accelerations and decelerations. Did the players get the right intensity or the number of sprints in the fragment of the game we are using? We are not able to solve these issues when planning microcycles, if we are not familiar with monitoring. Therefore, an important element when starting the implementation of the assigned tasks, is observation and getting to know “yourself”, and the effects of the methods used. It is worth spending two or even three weeks on this.
Getting to know the players
It is equally important to get to know the individual players. The first question that we should ask ourselves when analyzing a match or training unit is: do the parameters achieved by the player prove that his motor skills are weak, sufficient, or maybe good? To find out, we need to learn how to read registered parameters, how to compare them, and how to refer to a scale. Therefore, the first weeks of using monitoring for players will be similar to those for “getting to know yourself”. They will allow you to create an initial physical profile on the basis of which it will be possible to properly adjust loads.
Building player awareness
An important issue is informing and making players aware of why monitoring is used, what benefits can it bring, how to interpret the collected data, and how it can translate into improvement of the athlete’s substantive abilities. Each team member needs to be aware that it makes sense to wear a vest every day, switch the transmitter on and off at the right moment, as there are measurable benefits that can later be seen on the pitch.
Awareness of Priorities
Another thing to remember is to be aware of the role the data we receive will play in making individual decisions. We must constantly be aware that football is a discipline in which the player’s mind plays the greatest role. The fact that someone is fast does not mean that his locomotion is at the highest level, but that he is able to quickly analyze his situation on the pitch, and also makes decisions appropriate to motor skills. Locomotion is only to help him in this. It is the same with physical monitoring. It is a tool that helps launch technical and tactical actions thanks to data analysis. Therefore, the evaluation of players should first be considered in terms of their behavior in a given situation on the pitch and effectiveness of action, and only then should be supplemented with the results of the monitoring analysis. A better player is the one who is highly effective in completing tasks than the one who runs the greatest number of kilometers and has the best acceleration statistics. It should be emphasized, however, that a good motor disposition helps in the implementation of technical and tactical assumptions.
Well, what parameters should you pay special attention to when taking the first steps with the monitoring system? It is worth answering this question. At the beginning, when we start using the motor analysis, it may be a little difficult to find ourselves in all the parameters that are generated by the computer. Therefore, it is worth focusing on the parameters that are crucial for today’s football. It is a running discipline, so what matters is the distance covered by players at high-intensity, i.e. HID and VHID (Distance covered by a player with a speed above 70% and 85% of the maximum speed). It is also a game where speed and strength are extremely important. It expresses itself in the number of sprints, accelerations and decelerations. We can monitor this through the metabolic power parameter. In turn, the training unit load is checked by the Player Load. When we implement motor training with the use of Player Load / min conditioning games and distance / min, it will allow us to control time and the field of play, thanks to which we will obtain satisfactory results.
2. Assumptions and training plans based on the data.
Data interpretation depending on the way of the game
Data analysis differs depending on the accepted game model. Teams characterized by a high playing culture, being in possession of the ball for a long time, cover a shorter running distance and put less energy into the match. Therefore, the team that showed a higher football quality in a match has weaker parameters in terms of GPS data analysis than after games in which the opponent dominates, and we spend more time without the ball in individual zones of the pitch. The functioning of eleven players in each transition phase is another element of the game, when motor skills play a key role. The ability to react, the number of accelerations – these are the indicators of the quality in a given element. The adopted method of defending also affects the parameter values. A much higher number of explosions and distances covered at high intensity requires direct play in the high zone, as well as immediate counterpressing after losing the ball. Organized and conservative defensive play in the middle and low zones is less strenuous. A similar difference can be noticed in the parameters read from training performed in the form of task games or game fragments. The specificity of a team that is in the opening or building phase of a game will be different than that of a team in the defense phase. The awareness of the accepted game model should be taken into account when interpreting data from the monitoring system.
“Quality” does not mean “quantity”
An appropriate training unit, implemented on the basis of achieving technical and tactical goals, often in the form of task games in small spaces, may not bring the assumed physical effects. Awareness of this situation confirms the legitimacy of the management of the training process, and also means that achieving a certain style of play while maintaining high motor parameters should be a priority. When the analysis of the training unit monitoring shows a lack of the assumed intensity, we are able to effectively modify the training measures or introduce isolated exercises that will complement the training and emphasize the motor aspect. Depending on the nature of the training, complementary motor inserts may be implemented during or after the end of the unit. As a rule, they should be justified and should not reduce the quality of acquiring the way of playing. For example: training based on the 11×11 game implements specific tactical goals (the main goal of training), as well as shapes the endurance of players. Such a unit can be supplemented with additional running sections at the end of the training, which will strengthen the motor aspect without negatively affecting the purely football aspect. Another situation is when the goal is to shape the explosiveness and speed of the players. Then the application of motor exercises at the end might be ineffective due to fatigue. Then it makes sense to put them at the end of the introductory part. It will not affect the main part of the training and will give it a motoric character.
What is important in planning?
Planning of motor loads cannot be separated from the technical and tactical aspects applied in the training unit. The combination of the method of acquiring the game with the implementation of training loads ensures effective use of training time and maximizes the effects of activities. Depending on the level of the team (indirectly the level of players) and the stage at which they are, we are able to more or less integrate the training units with the motor aspects. The main parameter that shows us the intensity is Player Load and indirectly Player load / min or distance / min. However, depending on the stage of the team (the stage of learning, improvement or intensification of activities), we have to interpret this parameter differently and integrate training and motor goals.
Small games B + 1×1 + B to B + 4×4 + B or game fragments carried out in a small field (individual or group activities) can be used to shape the elements of strength and power. During the implementation of games with such specificity, a large amount of deceleration (eccentricity) and acceleration occurs. A great number of these motor elements selected in the appropriate series of games results in a strength stimulus for muscle work that is given to players. The parameters that we need to pay attention to when planning this type of training are primarily the number of accelerations and decelerations, RHIE (Repeated High Intensity Efforts – minimum 3 efforts above 70% of individual maximum metabolic power, separated by decelerations no longer than 21 seconds).
Team and group activities carried out in the games B + 4×4 + B-B + 7×7 + B are characterized by the type of muscle contraction, they can be used to shape special endurance for the implementation of intensive oxygen training. In turn, team activities carried out in the games B + 8×8 + B-B + 11×11 + B can be used to shape the extensive dimension of aerobic endurance. The parameters to monitor these loads are total distance, High Intensity Distance – (distance covered at a speed above 70% of the athlete’s maximum speed), Very High Intensity Distance (distance covered at a speed above 85% of the athlete’s maximum speed) and all parameters based on the athlete’s heart rate.
Game fragments based on group activities with the use of transitional phases, with the use of appropriate breaks can be a good stimulus in the implementation of speed training. With a well-chosen training unit creating the conditions for generating maximum speeds, it is possible to combine elements of the method of acquiring the game (e.g. behavior in a quick attack) with emphasis on the formation of speed. The key parameters in this type of training are of course the maximum speed and the number of sprints performed.