Comprehensive training load monitoring with biomarkers, performance testing, local positioning data, and questionnaires – first results from elite youth soccer.
Haller N, Blumkaitis JC, Strepp T, Schmuttermair A, Aglas L, Simon P, Neuberger E, Kranzinger C, Kranzinger S, O’Brien J, Ergoth B, Raffetseder S, Fail C, Düring M and Stöggl T (2022): Comprehensive training load monitoring with biomarkers, performance testing, local positioning data, and questionnaires – first results from elite youth soccer. In: Frontiers in Physiology
Load management, i.e., prescribing, monitoring, and adjusting training load, is primarily aimed at preventing injury and maximizing performance. The search for objective monitoring tools to assess the external and internal load of athletes is of great interest for sports science research. In this 4-week pilot study, we assessed the feasibility and acceptance of an extensive monitoring approach using biomarkers, neuromuscular performance, and questionnaires in an elite youth soccer setting. Eight male players (mean ± SD: age: 17.0 ± 0.6 years, weight: 69.6 ± 8.2 kg, height: 177 ± 7 cm, VO2max: 62.2 ± 3.8 ml/min/kg) were monitored with a local positioning system (e.g., distance covered, sprints), biomarkers (cell-free DNA, creatine kinase), questionnaires, neuromuscular performance testing (counter-movement jump) and further strength testing (Nordic hamstring exercise, hip abduction and adduction). Feasibility was high with no substantial impact on the training routine and no adverse events such as injuries during monitoring. Adherence to the performance tests was high, but adherence to the daily questionnaires was low, and decreased across the study period. Occasional significant correlations were observed between questionnaire scores and training load data, as well as between questionnaire scores and neuromuscular performance. However, due to the small sample size, these findings should be treated with caution. These preliminary results highlight the feasibility of the approach in elite soccer, but also indicate that modifications are needed in further large-scale studies, particularly in relation to the length of the questionnaire.