This spring, FC Wisconsin Eclipse players will be part of a ground-greaking study on using sports science to improve performance and reduce injury risk in elite teen athletes. The study is being conducted by Dr. Drew Watson, a pediatrician and sports medicine physician at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.
Within the study, every participating player from U14-U18 in the club will wear heart rate monitors in all trainings and competitions through the season. This information, along with pre- and post-season fitness testing, will be used to better understand the impact and training effect of various exercise loads on elite teen athletes. The players will also receive reports and information to educate them and their parents on how to manage different exercise loads during the week, to understand the difference between max-effort (overload) sessions, threshold sessions, and recovery sessions, and to improve their performance.
"The information that our players will receive through participating in the study will be fantastic and almost totally unique in youth soccer," said Director of Coaching Christian Lavers. "They will be able to see in real-time their actual physical performance levels, and will learn how to precisely manage their training volumes to insure that they are constantly improving and avoiding over-training that leads to injury and lower performance."
"Having the ability to use this technology and provide information to a group of elite athletes across a range of ages is rare anywhere, but FC Wisconsin Eclipse is uniquely structured to make it possible." said Dr. Watson. "The information we gain in this study has the potential to influence the way we train teen athletes across the country."
Information from heart rate monitoring can help educate players and parents on the delicate balance of periodising to maximize performance and improvement over time, the ways to reduce risk of injury, and how to maintain a constant upward trend in fitness and execution throughout a season. This concept is represented (greatly simplified) in the overload-recover-improve periodisation graph below:
Optimal training and periodisation provides a continual upward trend in performance by applying the proper training volume and recovery time within the session and day-to-day. Over-training leads to accumulated fatigue, lower performance, and ultimately higher risks of injury.
More information will be provided through the spring season.