A week in the life of a rugby athlete

James Grigson is an SMG Technologies’ sports science intern, talented rugby union player, and junior level coach. Currently, a third-year sports science student at the University of Queensland, James supports the product team in all facets of development. His primary focus is the strength and conditioning module for the SportsMed Elite and Baseline products. As a part-time strength and conditioning coach at a high performing sports school, James understands the demands and expectations of both an athlete and coach. Here, he shares his insights and explains how each athlete can get the most out training and boost their performance.

What does one think of when looking into the week of a rugby athlete? Think gruelling sessions clanging and banging the iron, explosive speed work, intense conditioning, fine tuning the set piece, physical contact work against the biggest bloke on the team (it happens every time) and of course game day. Not to mention the fact that you have a life, juggling work, your mates, family commitments, partners, levelling up on Pokemon GO (what happened to just playing FIFA?) It can be physically and mentally draining. In fact, it can become overwhelming. Now factor in trying to adequately reenergize the machine that is your body to perform at the best of your ability. With a few minor tweaks to your everyday routine and the assistance of performance monitoring software technology, training will be optimised, whilst on field game performances will be improved.

One of the most important aspects of increasing performance is sleep. It is a common misconception that training makes you stronger. Of course it is the stimulus, but you recover, grow and rebuild during your sleep and getting adequate rest is often overlooked. It is important to determine what sleep patterns work well for what athletes. The wellness monitoring built within the SMG technologies platforms, allow for trends in this data to be recognised. Therefore, ensuring all athletes have individualised plans set for them based on the feedback and data they return.

Understanding athlete psychology is vital, and as such as it is imperative for coaches to have a snapshot of the emotional status of their team. Player motivation, personality and perspectives play a significant part of overall performance. High performance staff require a centralised platform to view this information. Being able to easily view and identify the current correlations between the teams performance and mental wellbeing can be ground breaking, affecting the way coaching staff structure team and individual programs. For the player, having a coach gain greater perspective on their individual wellbeing ensures essential modifications to training sessions can be set, prior to the athlete taking the field.

Once the season is in full swing, 8 weeks of gym sessions can seem to morph into one of the same. Warm up, roll out the weekends niggles, pick up heavy objects, put them down, stretch and leave. It is important to stay inspired, motivated and accountable year round. Knowing previous bests, what you lifted last week, details of next session, is all extremely important. All this information could be memorised, or maybe scribbled on a piece of paper, you could be fancy with a booklet (most likely to have protein shake spilt on it in your gym bag), or better yet on an excel spreadsheet on your phone. If we were playing a game of hot and cold, the latter option would be considered very warm, but spreadsheets can be difficult to navigate, not to mention incredibly bland. You need something that compares your previous lifts, gives you alternatives when injured, motivates you with team leaderboards, all the while displaying it in an engaging and easy to understand manner.

Baseline by SMG Technologies, is the latest software development in athlete welfare and performance monitoring and brings together key metrics into one centralised platform. High-performance staff, along with athletes can monitor their wellness on a daily basis, with up to 22 metrics ranging from sleep quality through to compartmentalised muscles soreness. This platform monitors analyses and alerts on all aspects of a player’s physical and mental wellbeing, keeping athletes accountable and motivated year round. High-performance staff are now visually across every move their athletes make. Training is individualised and game specific, resulting in all around greater performances both on and off the field. As a coach, you not only owe it to your athletes to ensure this information is monitored, you owe it to your high-performance staff, the supporters that show up on a weekly basis and to yourself.

As you can see there are interrelated complexities of athletic and performance development. New technology can be used to understand athletes on a greater scale, and the results are likely to surprise you.