Empowering Coaches: Harnessing the power of data
In affiliates around the world, every day hundreds of thousands of data points, whether it is times or rounds on benchmark workouts, maximum lifts, or scaling vs RX, are written on white boards. The next day these data points are wiped away. For a lucky few, maybe the members actually logged their score in the electronic system but in reality little, if not nothing, happens with the data.
However, analysing the benchmark scores and lifts of members can be very valuable for the affiliate owners and (head) coaches. The information can help us understand how well members are doing, and can guide os on how to add value to our members' experiences.
In this post, we'll discuss how affiliate owners and (head) coaches can use the analysis of the benchmark scores and lifts to enhance their members' performance.
WARNING: Downloading the scores that members input into an electronic system may not be as straightforward as you might think. If it is not clear, contact your provider to support you in this. Do not let the downloading of data be the blocking point in adding value to your member's experiences.
What to do with all the data?
1) Organising the Data:
The first step for affiliate owners and (head) coaches is to make sure the data is properly organised. Usually, you need a central place, like a database or spreadsheet, where you can keep and follow members' data over time. Having this in place, makes the data easy to use and analyse.
2) What questions do you have?
The next step is that you need to write the questions that you want the data analysis to answer. In fact, after actually organising the data this is the most important step. A common pitfall is for the question to be too general, such as "are my members getting fitter?". You need to define what you mean by fitter and how you are going to measure it.
For example the questions may be:
Has there been an increase in strength (based on deadlift, back squat, and bench press) for all member groups over the last year?
Are both men and women improving in their 5 km row?
Has there been an improvement in both the max clean & jerk and snatch for all members?
Has the rate of improvement in the max strict HSPU been the same as for the max kipping HSPU?
Based on your question, pick a strategy (sometimes more than one) to explore and analyse the data to help you reach an answer.
2) Using Visual Tools:
Graphs, charts, and other ways of showing data can make the data easier to understand and therefore the analysis more straight forward. These visuals can make patterns more clear and can make it easier to show athletes how they are doing.
3) Comparing Data:
A main reason for looking at this data is to see how a member is doing now compared to before, or compared to other members. Coaches can look for patterns or trends to see where members are doing well or need to improve. For example, by looking at a member's maximum lift data over months or years, coaches can see if the member is steadily improving or stuck at the same level.
Looking at Individual Members:
By looking at the data for each member, coaches can see what each member's strong and weak points are. For example, a coach could look at how well an athlete does in different kinds of workouts, or how well they do different types of lifts. Coaches can use this information to adjust the member's training and/or goals to enhance their progression.
Looking at Groups of Members:
Not only can this data help with individual members, but it can also show how a group of members is doing (e.g. age, gender, how often they train). Coaches can compare how members do on the same workout or lift to see possible trends in the groups. This can help see if the programming is working as expected for all the different groups..
4) Spotting Changes:
Coaches also look for big changes from what is usual for an member. If a member's lift data suddenly drops, it could mean the member is at risk of getting hurt, is overtraining or is too tired. Coaches can use this information to adjust the member's training and/or goals to prioritise rest and recovery.
5) Keeping Track Over Time:
It's important for coaches to see how members do over a long time. They can use the workout and lift data to see how athletes improve and what they need to keep working on. This can help coaches adapt trainings so members keep improving and don't plateau.
6) Reach out for help:
Not sure how to analyse the data to answer your questions? Ask for help!
For example it could be that some of your members may have to analyse data in their daily lives and will be more than happy to help you set up a simple system to help you answer the questions that you have.
The same would go for many schools and colleges in your area. Many have courses such as statistics and sport science. These courses often want to work with "real data" to help their students learn how to not only analyse the data in order to answer questions, but also to present that analysis.
Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for support. Data analysis is not your core business, however it is something that should inform your choices.
What to do with all the answers?
Based on the answers to the questions, affiliate owners and (head) coaches can then determine if something needs to change, for example it can be something as general as strength programming or as detailed as the coaching of women in the snatch. Implement the change you want to make, and after a specific amount of time, analyse the data in the same way again to see if the change has made any impact. In this way, you can harness the power of data to improve you member experience.
Supporting all aspects of coaching
At Virtuous Coach Development, we're committed to addressing all aspects of coach development, and understanding how we can use data to underpin our coaching practice is just as crucial as any other aspect of coaching. Whether it's at the affiliate, team, or individual level with our support, expertise, and experience, you'll acquire the tailor-made knowledge and skills essential to elevate your coaching game (or that of your team). Struggling to define the questions to help guide your data analysis? Or how to change an aspect of your coaching or programming based on an answer you reached? Feel free to schedule a call to have a chat over coffee (or whatever you want!) about your affiliate, team, or your own coaching.