Player Monitoring and Youth Soccer - Soccer Parenting Association
Soccer Parenting Association – Inspiring Players by Empowering Parents
Make Youth Soccer Better and SHARE:
player-monitoring

Player Monitoring and Youth Soccer

In this interview I ask:

  • Can you tell us about Player Monitoring and how it can affect our kids?

Dr. Toby Brooks discusses:

  • How far player monitoring has come from the initial core temperature and cortisol levels analysis to the FitBit and Fuel Band to companies like Dr. John Cone’s Fit for 90.
  • How player monitoring can allow coaches, performance coaches and athletic trainers to understand athletes like never before.
  • How player monitoring supports Periodization.
  • The balance between player monitoring and building a rapport with the players.

Learn more about the

Everything you need to help your child be inspired by the game!

Dr. Toby Brooks,  is an expert in Long Term Athletic Development.  He has worked as a certified athletic trainer and/or strength and conditioning coach with numerous professional, collegiate, and high school athletics programs, including the USA Baseball national teams, the Oakland Raiders, the Florida Firecats AF2 Football franchise, and the Southern Illinois Miners Frontier League Baseball team. He has published multiple articles and studies, and presents regularly at national and international conferences.

TRANSCRIPT

Skye:
Thanks for joining us at soccerparenting.com. I'm here today with Toby Brooks. Toby is an associate professor at Texas Tech University. He has his PhD from The University of Arizona, and is an expert on long-term athletic development. In fact, he's just publishing a book that will hit the stands shortly or be available shortly, entitled, The Essentials of Long-Term Athletic Development. Thanks, Toby, for being here today.

Toby:
Thanks for having me, Skye.

Skye:
Yeah. Toby and I have gotten to know each other through the Changing the Game Project, which is an organization that he and I are both involved with, John O'Sullivan, and the Changing the Game Project, where we're really trying to make sure that youth sports remains with the kids. And so it's been great having that connection with you, and I'm excited we're talking today. I want to talk a little bit about player monitoring. Something we're seeing a lot more in soccer.

A company that I'm familiar with, a friend of mine, John Cone, owns a company called Fit For 90. He's recently partnered with US Club Soccer and offering his services through their Player First initiative. He does a lot of stuff in the soccer world, as the name might say, Fit For 90, working with US soccer, working with a variety of different professional teams in the MLS and the Women's League, some college teams, and has great results. It's interesting, was we can maybe expect in news sports that this is starting to translate down into the youth game. Can you just tell us a little bit about player monitoring and how that would affect potentially our kids?

Toby:
Sure. I think it's fascinating for me to see how far it's come and how quickly it's come. It was probably five... Maybe 10 years ago, that player monitoring, cutting edge of that was a thermal capsule that football players would take so that we could monitor their core temperature wireless.

Skye:
Really?

Toby:
And that was it. I mean, there was no pulse. There were no real measurables other than body temperature.

Skye:
Yeah.

Toby:
And with the advent of technology and movement sensor, I mean it all came from cell phones, I think. The g-sensors in your cell phone can sense motion. Well, that turned into Fitbit, and that turned into FuelBand, and it's turned into a bunch of different things, and the technology just keeps improving. And it really allows coaches and certain conditioning professionals to really understand our athletes in ways we never really could before. Before, if you noticed a player was a step slow or they just seemed groggy, we would draw assumptions. But that wasn't necessarily accurate. So it's interesting to me to see we can now verify this, or at least, confirm our suspicions based on some real hard data.

And that's encouraging because that helps us be able to tailor our training much better. The risk that we run in any kind of year-long endeavor for athletic development is that we're going to overtrain our athletes and we're going to plateau. And so, the whole idea behind periodization is we're constantly mixing up that exercise stimulus so that the body doesn't ever settle into homeostasis. I always tell my students that, is the body loves status quo, and the only way we prevent status quo and continue to improve is to constantly mix up that exercise stimulus. So something like athlete monitoring like this allows us to understand when an athlete probably is overtrained and we need to peel back or when they are seeing some measurable performance improvements, and maybe it's time to ratchet up the training a little bit. So it's pretty cool to see how far it's come.

Skye:
Yeah, it's been exciting. I was watching a few weeks ago a Man U game, and the announcer said that Jones wasn't playing because he was in the red zone. And I got all excited because I'm like, "Oh, it's just starting to become a little bit part of our more normal vernacular that we're talking about these things." And it's exciting for me as a parent to think that my coach or her coach is thinking about these things, because it makes me feel like she's going to be safer and healthier. I love the idea through a player monitoring system. Things that we deal with our kids is maybe she was up super late studying for an exam or just has been really overwhelmed with school. Not even necessarily things to deal with physically, how her body's feeling as a result of the soccer, that we're able to take those things into account as we're the coaches are putting her training sessions together.

Toby:
That's true. I think it's important for us to just keep it in context. I mean, it is just a tool. But lots of times it's real tempting for coaches to embrace technology at the expense of the rapport that I need to have with my athlete. So the beauty of the athlete player monitoring system is now we've got some measurable data to put along with what we're seeing exhibited by the athlete, and I think it makes it easier for us to figure out when to do which of those things.

Skye:
We know that we want a coach to treat our child differently based on what they're encountering there, and then to turn that in to... Or translate that to physically how they might be feeling, and have a coach to treat our child differently based on how they're feeling physically.

Toby:
Yeah. Some of the stuff we used to look at 10 years ago to determine overtraining required a blood draw and they-

Skye:
Oh, got you. Yeah.

Toby:
Cortisol levels were always a marker of overtraining. Well, how many 12-year-olds get their cortisol levels checked? So, to know that even something like a Fitbit that can tell me how well they're sleeping, I mean, that's not necessarily what we're talking about at an elite soccer level, but having data like that... If your injuries aren't healing, knowing how well you're sleeping is probably some of the most important information I can have. So just that little $100 Fitbit that you got for Christmas can tell me a lot about what you're doing when you're not in my care.

Skye:
Right. No, that's great. I know technology's really come so far. Yeah. I'm really excited to get this information out to parents. Soccer parenting, it's all about educating and empowering parents so their children can have the best soccer experience possible. So I think this is some great information for them. Thanks for taking the time.

Toby:
Thanks for having me. It's my pleasure.

Skye:
Great.


About the Author Skye Eddy

Founder, SoccerParenting.com Skye is a former All-American goalkeeper, professional player and collegiate coach. She holds her USSF “B” License and USSF National Goalkeeper License and is an active youth coach, soccer parent and coach educator.

follow me on:
>