Athlete training load and wellness monitoring tech platforms have become increasingly popular with sporting organisations in recent years, particularly with high-performance youth development programs who are focussed on keeping young athletes in peak physical and mental condition. These platforms can provide valuable insights into an athlete's training patterns and holistic wellbeing, which can help coaching staff, parents and players make data-driven decisions to improve their overall health and performance.

However, player engagement and compliance rates with these technologies can vary depending on several factors, as indicated in a recent study conducted by leading youth sports tech company, Sportly.Me.  The analysis was taken from a sample of 626 athletes participating in high-performance basketball programs for elite and intermediate athletes over a 3-year period from 2021-2023.

“We know from our research that 71% of youth athletes who use Sportly as part of a high performance development programs, demonstrate medium to high engagement with technology for monitoring training load and wellness.” remarks Sportly.Me CEO, Damien Thomson. “This high engagement score reflects the ease of use of the Sportly platform and the insight we share with athletes to help them take ownership of their own training.” Conversely, only 12% of athletes involved in these programs will never engage with the technology, which can be attributed to a range of factors, including age, geography, ethnicity, access to technology and confidence using the platforms. 

Gender also plays a role in engagement, with males approximately 1.5x less likely to embrace technology as females. This gender disparity should be taken into account when developing strategies to engage young male athletes in these programs.

“We have found programs that provide education to help young athletes understand the importance of monitoring their activity and wellness, combined with sufficient motivation to utilise the technology, achieve a higher engagement rate” said Thomson.

Compliance is an important metric commonly used by program directors as a benchmark for athletes adopting technology to monitor their training loads and wellbeing. High compliance is deemed to be logging training and wellness activity at least 5 days a week, while low compliance is deemed to be logging activity less than 2 days per week. From the Sportly.Me study, the average player compliance rates vary by phase of season, with in-season compliance rates being higher (64%) than off-season compliance rates (55%). While training loads are typically lower in the off season, it is still important to monitor these levels to prevent increasing too quickly from a lower base when pre-season comes around.

Experience level of programs is also a factor in compliance rates, with elite players typically having a higher compliance rate than intermediate players. The average in-season compliance rate for elite players is 69%, while intermediate players have an average compliance rate of 56%. This suggests that elite players are more likely to understand the importance of monitoring their performance and wellness and are more willing to comply with the program.

Interestingly, the gender of elite players also affects their compliance rates, with female elite players having a higher compliance rate than male elite players. The average in-season compliance rate for female elite players is 71%, while male elite players have an average compliance rate of 65%.

Lastly, compliance rates also vary by competition age groups. Athletes in the under 14 and below age groups have an average compliance rate of 57%, while athletes in the under 16 and above age groups have an average compliance rate of 66%. This indicates that younger athletes may need more guidance and education on the importance of monitoring their performance and wellness.

Technology can help coaches achieve more accurate insight into how players are both physically and mentally responding to training activity undertaken through high performance development programs. The data gathered by platforms such as Sportly.Me can ultimately help coaching staff and players make more informed decisions around training volumes to improve athletes overall health and performance. When implementing these platforms, factors including age, gender and athlete experience level can influence participation and compliance rates and should be considered when developing player benchmarks and strategies to engage and motivate young athletes. 

Written by Damien Thomson

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