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How Identifying Fatigue Can Unlock Peak Performance in Athletes

The nature of performance training demands a level of repetition that borders on monotony. Practitioners put athletes through their paces, day after day and week after week, in order to build their speed, strength and resistance to injury and fatigue. But they are also training them for consistency. The goal: Make a movement – or, more likely, a series of interconnected movements – repeatable. Given that objective, the success of a training program can be measured, at least in part, by consistent performance at a prescribed threshold.

It stands to reason, then, that practitioners can also use those measures as a sort of athlete “check engine” light. With the ability to identify even slight dips or variations in individual performance – which may indicate injury or simple fatigue – a trainer can be notified at the appropriate time to assess an athlete’s fitness, and possibly alter their regimen or prescribe rest. These notifications can not only help prevent further injury but also assist a practitioner in unlocking peak athletic performance.

Sportlight’s Fatigue Flag Module

Variation in performance is inherent to athletics, and is part of the reason we play games in the first place. Humans aren’t robots. If they were, we’d know the eventual outcome of every match before it began. We’d also be able to install real “check engine” lights in every model. Instead, performance practitioners are left to look for small disparities and imbalances in athletes – some of them all but imperceptible to the naked eye – and to establish a pattern that can indicate a deeper problem. The challenge: Verifying those patterns requires constant and comprehensive evidence-gathering, and tracking every movement of every athlete is hard.

But with LiDAR-based performance-tracking technology from Spotlight, practitioners can closely monitor and record the movements of all players at once. Moreover, with Sportlight’s Fatigue Flag module, teams can be notified automatically when the system detects abnormal movement patterns that may indicate athlete fatigue. Some of the highlights of the Fatigue Flag v0.2 module include:

  • The model does not combine matches together and only considers the most recent match for assessing the current state of the player

  • An individualized approach that accounts for players reacting differently to similar workload demands

  • Bridges gaps in data (such as international breaks) to make sense of the information on hand

  • Addresses certain biases and blind spots present in the current model, making better use of the information available to it

  • Incorporates pre-processing filters to ensure data inputs are statistically valid, enabling a batter rejection of outliers

  • Complements a practitioner’s workload monitoring with a passive-testing philosophy (which doesn’t require active engagement)

Findings of Sportlight’s Performance-Tracking Tech

The benefits of Sportlight’s system, including the Fatigue Flag model, can be seen in the results of a league-wide analysis of player performance tracking among Premier League clubs. Some important findings from this analysis:

  • The risk of an issue following a flag is 36%

  • 66% of all issues are identified up to 10 days before they are reported

  • The risk of an issue for non-flagged players is significantly reduced to 13%

  • Flagged players are 2.7 times more likely to develop an issues compared to non-flagged players

The advantages for a practitioner – and, by extension, for a coach and a club – are obvious. A player-tracking system that can alert a team to a pattern of compromised performance in an athlete, and which accounts for every athlete at all times, can be an invaluable tool when considering training regimens, lineup changes and even game strategy. If availability is truly the best ability, Spotlight’s performance-tracking system and Fatigue Flag module have the potential to help a practitioner optimize the most important player skill across their club.

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