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Dec 11 2016 - Competition Data

Competition Data                By. Jason Reindl

As athletes participate in athletics for longer periods of time they will undoubtedly start to take part in organized competitions. During these competitions a large amount of data will be available to both themselves and their coach(es). Placings, results, times, distances, heights, and points scored are easily available and constitute a primary source of data which helps the coach and athlete reflect on and analyze competition. This competitive data can also prove useful to enhancing motivation, determining if the performance gaps are being narrowed, and aiding the athlete learning process. However, as athlete development and the coaching processes can become overly complicated and complex the pertinent questions become what competition information is the most beneficial and how can it help the planning process? This posting attempts to highlight a few information sources while noting that data can be found and objectively assessed from a variety of other sources.

First level competition data most suited towards new and developing athletes (bantam and midget age group) in the learning to train and training to train stages of LTAD:

Date - Name of Event - Location - Events - Placing - Performance - Wind & Weather

 

A large amount of information can easily be found in the posted online results files and can help athletes and coaches see if performances are increasing or decreasing and if the performance goals/gaps are being achieved/narrowed, however this information lacks context.  What is the story behind the competition results and how can that impact our reflection on the results?  Here is an example of a female athletes 400m Hurdle time progressions in 2015 (blue line) and 2016 (red line). Through this visual representation of the data we can see that both of her top results (2015 and 2016) came on the 5th performance of the year with performance regression happening after this.

Second level competition data suited for athletes with a better understanding of competition (midget and youth age group) in the training to training to train and training to compete stages of the LTAD:

Date - Name of Event - Location - Event(s) - Placing - Performance - Wind & Weather - Notes

 

The addition of the notes section can allow the coach or athlete to put in greater amounts of detail/context around the performance such as personal best, provincial record, what time of day the event took place, what the weather might have been like, and situational factors experienced (lane 1 vs. lane 8 or what type of fouls occurred in the horizontal jump events or throwing events, or other reflective thoughts).

Using the visual graph from above further insights into the notes section can let us know that the 2015 best came one week after the national junior championships at a low priority competition while the 2016 results came at the national junior championships.  In this case the information from 2015 helped shape the plans for the 2016 season in particular the start date and the length of taper prior to the national championships in 2016 thus helping the athlete achieve a better state of readiness at the most important event of the year.

Third level competition data suited towards performance focused athletes (youth, junior, senior age groups) in the training to compete and training to win stages of LTAD:

Date - Name of Event - Location - Event(s) - Q, H, S, F - Placing - Performance (include wind) - Notes Coach - Notes Athlete

 

Additions for third level data recording include when the results took place (qualifying, heats, semis, finals). The goal of competition is to bring the best performance in the final as this is when final placing is determined, did this occur? If not, why? Reflection at this stage centers around the reasons behind the performances and expanding on gaps to be addressed during the athlete development process? Was it physical, mental, emotional, or perhaps related to ineffective planning? Was it because of a secondary event just prior to the final or perhaps the wind picked up and several fouls occurred? Were the goals achieved (yes or no)?  Performances that appear poor initially can be strong when analyzed to a greater extent. This information needs to be viewed as informative and imperative to the learning and planning processes for both coach and athlete.

Third level data is focused on reflections with greater depth and breadth from both the coach and the athlete. 12-36 hours post competition as the athlete and coach are reflecting on the performance they can send the information to the coach to incorporate within a recording file which is then used by the coach to guide the competition debrief for that meet. The coach can then explore the results and data with the athlete taking in both points of view. What transpired in the lead up to the event? What occurred during the meet, which may include environmental factors? What occurred after? Was the pre-comp plan in place? Was the post-comp plan in place? How about the execution of the technical, tactical, physical, psychological? These are all areas of information that can help the coach and athlete prepare for future competitions, identify and analyze gaps hopefully leading to increased efficacy in the development of training and competition plans. 

The importance of recording competition data and reflecting on it aids both the coach and athlete. Clarity around questions occurs with insights and answers also coming to fruition. This clarity allows both coach and athlete to identify, plan, and execute with greater focus and understanding on what is required to achieve their performance goals. In conclusion, coaches and athletes are encouraged to record competition data and reflect upon it to aid in their athlete development processes. A future article will take a similar look into monitoring and recording of training data.

This article is the second of a monthly segment called Coaching Connection. Ideas for future topics and if individuals would like to contribute to the monthly segment are encouraged to contact Coaching Education Director Jason Reindl at jasonreindl@me.com

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