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28 Feb 2016, General

Doha, 28 February 2016. More than 300 local and international participants took part in the final day of Aspire Academy’s second sports science conference, “Monitoring Athlete Training Loads – the Hows and Whys”, which finished on Thursday 25th February. 

Speakers at the conference included Dr Carl Foster, Professor of Exercise and Sport Science from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (USA); Dr Stephen Seiler, Dean of the Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences at the University of Agder (Norway); Dr Martin Buchheit, Head of Performance at Paris Saint Germain Football Club; Dr Marco Cardinale, Head of Sports Physiology at Aspire Academy and other leading figures from around the world.

The three-day conference featured a range of informative and valuable discussions on the most suitable methodologies and theories for effectively managing and monitoring training loads to protect athletes from injuries resulting from intensive training regimes. The event also included a number of debates on best practice and theory in monitoring athlete training loads.

Sessions on the final day of the conference focused on key topics including monitoring, modelling and controlling training loads in teams sports and included a session on theoretical basis and practical applications by professor Aaron Coutts; and another on the training—injury prevention paradox by Dr. Tim Gabbett.

The last day also included discussion of various research papers. Amongst these was one on the Systematic Process for Selecting the Most Appropriate Training Load Measures for Injury Risk Monitoring of Team Sport Athletes via Data Reduction Techniques by Dr. Sean Williams from the University of Bath, based on data on training loads collected from 173 professional Rugby Union players during the 2013/14 English Premiership season. The paper concluded that the process enables practitioners to monitor the most parsimonious set of training load variables for injury risk monitoring, whilst still retaining distinct aspects of ‘load’ within the data.

Commenting on the conference’s significance, Dr. William Sands, Associate Member of Sheffield Hallam University Centre for Sport and Exercise Science in England said: “This is a wonderful conference and I have to hand it to the organisers for bringing together some of the best speakers in the field. The topic of the conference is very timely and appropriate – approaches to monitoring training load in our field have been hit-and-miss to date. It’s also a hugely important issue, since working with top level athletes and managing their training load is a major responsibility.”

Prof. Stephen Seiler, Dean of the Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences at the University of Agder in Norway said: “What is really special about this conference is that it allows us to really focus on one issue that is relevant and applicable to many different sports, and a topic that is central to training and to improving athletic performance. Hopefully the participants can take away from the conference information and methods that can be applied on the ground in their work with athletes. I also expect the conference will help identify new and worthwhile areas of study and raise important research questions.”

Melvin Kantebeen from the Sports Medical Centre Amsterdam in the Netherlands said: “It’s good to know how the rest of the world is monitoring training load and how everyone is dealing with this topic, since we are all facing the same problems. This conference gives us the opportunity to discuss the different challenges we all face and to learn how other experts in the field are tackling them.”

A number of participants expressed their delight at being able to take part in the conference given the opportunity it presents to discuss best practice methods in relation to monitoring athlete training loads. Several commented on the world-leading expertise represented at the event and how the conference programme really helped facilitate the exchange of knowledge and expertise. 
Robert Hunt from the Duntroon Health Centre in Australia said: “It’s a fantastic event that brings together world leaders in the field of monitoring training. All the information we have heard here helps puts the pieces of the jigsaw together in terms of increasing performance. I have been very interested to hear how other experts are integrating different approaches”.

Filip Aurelian Leontin Hendrea from Al Jaish Sports Club in Qatar said: “The conference is amazing and I think we can all benefit from being here. The speakers are great and they have given us a really good sense of how to combine established and more leading-edge techniques and methodologies. I’m looking forward to applying a number of the approaches I have heard here with my Club.”

The three-day conference reflects Aspire Academy’s focus of keeping in line with the latest trends in sports science and athletic development, which contributes towards its efforts of becoming recognised global resource in athlete development by 2020.

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