By Scott Caulfield
Head of Strength and Conditioning at Lumin Sports
Director of Strength and Conditioning at Norwich University
As this is the second and final part of the series, I’ll refer you to Part 1 for an in-depth look at what subjective data is, how it differs to objective data, and its significant benefits in relation to monitoring athlete wellbeing, and understanding athlete motivation and mindset.
This article, The power of subjective data in sports science: Part 2, will focus on
- Personalizing training and programs
- Enhancing injury prevention and rehabilitation
- Capturing athlete experiences and perspectives
Personalizing training programs
Subjective data can help coaches and sports scientists understand athletes' preferences, perceptions, and responses to different training interventions, exercises, environments, or recovery strategies.
For instance, if I know that a particular group of athletes hate to use ice baths, it doesn't make sense to force them to do it when there are many other proven methods to use. Additionally, in a situation where I have worked with them long enough and established a relationship where I trust them regarding training, I am happy to let athletes choose specific weight room movements over ones I prescribed that day. Empowering athletes to have more ownership in S&C programs is one of the best tools to keep them engaged and continually achieving results.
By collecting personal information and preferences, coaches can incorporate them into training program design and give athletes what they want and need leading to enhanced athlete engagement, adherence, and performance outcomes.
Enhancing injury prevention and rehabilitation
Subjective data can be crucial in injury prevention and rehabilitation. An athlete’s self-reported pain, discomfort and injury observations can help coaches and sports medicine staff monitor injury progression, assess treatment efficacy, and guide return-to-play decisions. At Norwich University, we use the Lumin Sports mobile app which has an excellent interface and allows athletes to pinpoint areas of injury or soreness. That information allows me to discuss training goals ahead of time and even make adjustments to programs if required. In a small setting or with limited resources, the ability for athletes to self-report new injuries via the app and then have a trainer or coach connect with them to follow up is a tremendous asset.
Understanding an athlete's subjective experience of pain, fear, and confidence can also inform the psychological aspects of injury recovery, including coping strategies and motivation to adhere to rehabilitation protocols.
Capturing athlete experiences and perspectives
Subjective data can help capture the experiences and perspectives of athletes, providing valuable qualitative insights into their training, performance, and challenges.
Athlete reports, discussions, or introspections can help us better understand the contextual factors influencing their performance, such as culture, social support, and team dynamics. This information can help coaches develop athlete-centred approaches that respect individual differences and promote wellbeing and performance.
Stronger together: Subjective and objective data
While objective data remains critically essential in sports performance, subjective data provides valuable insights into athlete wellbeing, motivation, mindset, training preferences, and experiences.
The integration of personal data into sports science research and practice can lead to a more holistic and personalized approach to optimizing performance and wellbeing that has the potential to significantly improve entire programs and a team's ability to communicate and make informed decisions.
"As a professional cycling team we have athletes based all over the world, and at times we don’t see them in person for several weeks during the season or months during the off season, and even longer in the current climate. The Lumin Arc platform and Phila app allow us to simplify and centralise both qualitative and quantitative data on the athletes and is a valuable tool for us both for helping with team selection decisions, but also for general monitoring of the athletes health and well being."
"Lumin's Arc platform is a game changer in professional cycling. Arc has given our team real insights into the athlete’s performance and how they are feeling and training every day. This has and will continue to improve our decision making in a globally disparate team."
"We are a sport and a team with such a diverse work force which is geographically dispersed. Keeping in touch with each other is critical , every day that a rider is not able to train is a day lost to the team and to the rider. Technology and the partnership with Lumin has enabled us to be more connected than ever in a meaningful and relevant way, keeping us on the road."
"I can comfortably say that Lumin has saved us well over 40% in time spent collecting and preparing data, meaning we can spend more time putting the data to use."
“I am able to see all of my data in real time combined into the one system. Everything from my wellness to my performance data on one system is incredibly powerful. I’m able to connect all of my data to my coaches, performance staff and the people allowing me to be at my best. I’m able to integrate my 3rd party hardware and it will upload instantly to the Arc platform for instant analysis. As an athlete we often are asked to use a variety of different tools to monitor all of our performance metrics, With the Arc Mobile and Arc platforms this now consolidates this monitoring and data collection to very few seamless steps, allowing me to concentrate on racing and performing at my best."
"The Arc and Phila platforms have provided us with the ability to understand and monitor our group more in depth, while reducing our admin time with the data analysis perspective, giving us more time for what matters, developing our players on the field."
"The interactive, user-friendly nature of the platform helps to sort through large data sets to find the relevant information. With around 25-30% reduction in work-force across the league as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been able to maintain the same level of analysis across the 2021 season through the Arc platform."
"Since using Arc by Lumin Sports, we, as a high performance football team have been able to consolidate a-lot of our existing data storage and analysis platforms so that we can now use one central platform throughout the department. Seamless integrations with real time visuals has been at the forefront of my work and where I see the most benefit and potential from the Arc platform from my point of view."