What wearable technology do teams use to monitor athletes' workload?
Research reviewed: Benson et. al (2020). Workload a-WEAR-ness: Monitoring Workload in Team Sports With Wearable Technology. A Scoping Review. JOSPT
This week’s paper examined the growing sphere of wearable technology in team sports, specifically what types of wearables are used to monitor the athletes’ workload.
The researchers reviewed the literature across a multitude of databases and came away with 407 studies focused on wearable devices and team sports.
Over the past two decades, there’s been a shift from using heart rate monitors in isolation to record internal metrics to using other sensors that record external load, both with and without concurrent use of the heart rate monitors.
The most common sensor used for monitoring external load was a GPS. However, GPS doesn’t work indoors so there’s been a gradual shift to using accelerometers, radio-frequency based tracking systems (which actually may be more accurate than a GPS), and devices that include some or all components of inertial measurement units (IMUs), including accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer.
Workload monitoring is common in elite and professional teams - especially male sports - but there’s still not enough consistent data (with studies often performed in different ways which makes it difficult to synthesize) to give concrete recommendations for using wearable technology to improve injury prevention & performance in athletes.
That being said, the ongoing shift toward wearing technology that combines multiple sensors is improving our understanding of movement quality, performance, workload, and injury. It’s a very exciting and burgeoning field rife with possibilities but there’s still significant work to be done on the research front.