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How to Make Training Iterations Based On Data Insights

Image of Alexandra Petala
Alexandra Petala

We live in the era of athlete data, and undoubtedly critical advancements in technology have made sports around the world better for everyone. Unfortunately, in swimming, although we have been reasonably good at integrating technologies for racing, we are much slower at adapting to new technologies for training. If no one dares to race without a tech suit, why do we train old school? 

The reality is that integrating data in training is more complicated than putting a tech swimsuit on. It takes time, effort (although this is also true for tech suits) and much education to shift from traditional to data-driven training. Sports technologies like TritonWear measure performance and transform how athletes train, compete and manage their careers. The problem now is not the access to data but quite the contrary. It is the explosion of athlete data and not knowing what to do with them.

This article gives you the blueprint on how to go from being new in utilizing data to being a pro, enabling you to make data-powered changes in your training. 

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FIT Phases of Becoming Data-Driven

If you're wondering what FIT or Focused Iterative Training is, it is a simple, repeatable process that helps speed up athlete development, and it includes three easy steps you will go through a number of times:observe discover adjust

Every touchpoint below involves going through a FIT cycle each time, learning and understanding more about the relationship between data, training sets and performance.

To help educate coaches and swimmers interpret data, we have mapped the entire journey through the first several Focused Iterative Training (FIT) cycles. These encompass all the steps coaches and swimmers we work with have gone through on the path to data-driven training. Ready to transform the way you work, acquire new skills and embrace data and technology? Let's do it!

FIT Cycle 1: Getting Acquainted (4-6 weeks)

This first FIT cycle is all about getting acquainted with your Triton unit, the app, data and scores. It takes a bit longer than future FIT cycles will, taking anywhere from 4-6 weeks to complete. This is because it's the cycle you will spend the most time in learning mode, gaining an understanding of the intricacies between data and training.

Executing the first round of FIT

  1. Observe: You will start learning how to nose into the data. The first step is exploring the metrics in live training, then digging into Focus to look at them through a different lens. TritonWear breaks training down by categorizing metrics for each phase of swimming: overwater, underwater and transitions. Look at your metrics under ''Myself'' for each stroke and swim phase to really get to know your strengths and weaknesses, and how each metric reacts to changes in how you train. 

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    An excellent exercise is to explore "Myself" and "Like Me" comparisons. "Myself" scores show how an individual executed their skills today compared to their typical (over the last 30 days), while "Like Me" scores show how an individual's typical skill execution compare to other swimmers of the same racing gender, height, & speed.

    How do you use these? The easiest way is to start on the Like Me view. Explore how you (if you are an athlete) or your swimmers (if you are a coach) compare for each skill. Find the Input Metrics with the lowest scores. These will be the lowest hanging fruits, so your best bet for the first ones to go after.

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  2. Discover: Next, you will start drawing connections between data and what's happening in the water. For example, after analyzing the "Myself" and "Like Me" scores, you decide that a first good goal for the overwater metrics is to increase Stroke Rate for Backstroke.

    So you plan your sets around this goal and start noticing the Stroke Rate at each speed and the relationship between Stroke Rate, Distance Per Stroke,  Stroke Count and Overwater Speed. Precisely how these metrics influence each other and how to strike a good balance.
  3. Adjust: You will start questioning and changing your thought process and planning approach.
     
    ⇒ Pro tip: Try to plan this first FIT phase around a meet. The meet will serve as an excellent opportunity to set benchmarks for your data and help give you a starting point. You will also realize the actual value of training data, how they relate to racing and where you want to go next.

FIT Cycle 2: Gaining Precision & Confidence (4 weeks)

At the beginning of this second round of iterations, you may feel uncertain about what you know and how you plan training sets to target data during practices. Things may not have clicked for you just yet, but they will. It's essential to stay the course and keep at it. Soon you will feel the ball of data yarn in your mind unravelling and find precision and confidence in what you are doing.

As mentioned earlier, the problem now is not getting access to data, but what to do with it. Can you drive 20 different points at a time during practice? No! Then how and what can you do to narrow it down?

Executing the second round of FIT

  1. Observe: The difference between output and input metrics will become engrained. So during this FIT cycle the key is to start planning your training around which output metrics you want to improve, then build sets that address the input metrics that will help get you there.
  2. Discover: By the second meet, you will start seeing results delivered in the pool. Coaches we work with reported that their entire team of athletes were far better on their underwater (something they focused on), and swimmers began to understand how their overwaters affect their transitions and their underwaters and vice versa.
  3. Adjust: By the end of this cycle, you will start seeing a visible change in training effort, and swimmers will start showing up with intention and purpose every day. You will be eager to begin integrating deeper.

FIT Cycle 3: Moving From Intuition to Data-Driven (depends on meet opp.)

In this third round of iterations, planning with data will feel like second nature, and FIT cycles will become part of seasonal planning. The most significant transformation here is that both coaches and swimmers will show up to work with purpose. They will train and be mindful of technique, speed, and efficiency, rather than just hitting pace times.

At this point, the athletes also start moving from abstract to more concrete grounded conversations around their skills. They start feeling confident in their ability to make changes and perform in the pool because they know and can see how they are getting better. They are also aware that everything is measured, so they become more accountable for their performance, which is 60% of the battle.

Executing the third round of FIT

  1. Observe: To fine-tune your training, you will target different metrics with different sets. One set may target transitions and measure Push Max Acceleration, Turn Rate and Distance Underwater. In contrast, another set may target the overwater phase and measure Rep Time, Stroke Index and DPS. By this point, you know and work on the benchmarks for each metric, then you check and call out the real-time data during your live workouts to make sure everyone is hitting their goals.
  2. Discover: After gaining confidence in your ability to interpret Focus scores and adjust skill metrics, you'll start spending more time with Triton Scores, and exploring Readiness and Intensity, to further expand your understanding of how training goes every day. 
    As a coach, you can look at the session Triton Score, which is an average for all athletes in the workout, to ensure your swimmers are all training in the 'safe zone' and hitting the expected intensity without sacrificing their skills. Then flip over to the Members section to dig into each athlete's individual Triton Scores to quickly identify who is doing well, who needs more help, and why.

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  3. Adjust: Last, you will use Readiness to validate your seasonal plan maintains between 10-15% load increase or decrease across your sessions every week, especially while decreasing training volume safely during tapering. Readiness will also help keep you ''in your lane'' by giving you a snapshot of the total distance your athletes actually swam. This is also helpful when athletes are out due to injury or illness, to ramp them back up to full regular training safely. 

    Going back into the training plan, you can also benchmark the Intensity average for specific practices and check that swimmers are hitting the expected effort/swim intensity for that workout. You can also look into Intensity per Stroke and get insights on how well-rounded your athletes are training to be.

The Triton 2 unit will become part of the daily gear and as mandatory as grabbing your goggles. Wearing the unit for every practice further helps with load monitoring and data accuracy. That is the beauty of machine learning; it evolves as you evolve, and the more data it gathers, the more accurate the swimming profile it builds for you. Besides, successful behavioural changes in the water require substantial commitment, time and effort. If you want to see fundamental changes in your swimming, you'll need to focus on being better every day, not just your best during tests sets.

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