What is a Key Performance Indicator (KPI)?
It’s a simple metric concept taken from the finance sector. It measures the effectiveness of the strategy applied in sport.
How does it relate to strength and conditioning?
Combined testing is considered as a KPI. Having said that, all tests and methodologies may not always transfer to the particular sport or skill. KPIs help us evaluate the effectiveness of the training phase on the field of play, and find a solution to improve its impact. As is well known, every athlete has different needs and areas they can improve on. The concept of KPIs helps you discern how you need to train your athletes at every stage of their road map.
Establishing KPIs depending on age, sport and skill makes it easier to track, train, and monitor players at every stage. They also improve the performances of the players.
Working closely with a wide range of sports professionals – amateur and professional – who have been with us for some time and are hard-working and focussed, we have evolved a system to target improvement and progression over a period of time. This we have done by focussing on the base quality to be addressed at every stage. Just because a KPI is working for a particular team and a particular athlete doesn’t mean that the same KPI will work for others. There are several variables to negotiate. Each strength and conditioning approach to KPI would vary depending on these variables.
The most important reason for using KPIs are their usefulness in allowing athletes to train specifically for a particular outcome.
For example, if I know that I want to improve a player’s unilateral vertical jump because that will aid his skill in the sport that he plays, through KPIs, I would know what movements, ratios, and percentages are required to work at it. This in turn helps determine the work-to-rest ratio depending on the training that needs to be undertaken. KPIs for strength and conditioning coaches all over the world would be a strong guide for the players for useful outcomes. It will make them buy into this system. Its readiness to be delivered at every stage of the programme is a must to prove that the system in place is working well and protocols are robust.
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KPIs must be
Smart – To document what needs to be accomplished clearly and accurately.
Measurable – Data helps to determine when the objective was achieved.
Realistic – To push the athlete to his/her optimum capacity while avoiding over-reaching or burn out.
Pertinent – To correlate these to specific needs and applicable intents.
Adhering to a time frame – Time frame and deadline helps fulfil the objectives.
Understanding your athlete
For strength and conditioning coaches, the starting point is understanding the sport each athlete plays. Once the questions below are answered, the target training can be specific.
1. What is the recovery time between each skill play?
2. How intense is the sport, and what is the frequency of the change of direction involved?
3. What speed does the athlete achieve? At what speed does he/she accelerate and decelerate? What is the maximum speed and which specific component needs to improve?
4. Is it a contact or a non-contact sport? Do they need to be more physically and psychologically dominant?
5. What methods/space/time does one have to test and track efficiently over the period of time?
6. How much threshold zone/aerobic zone does the player need to be in?
7. What are the other components of fitness a player needs to improve his/her skills?
8. Are the targets realistic? What target type measurement is being used?
9. What is the metric type to be used? What is the deadline for the target to be reached?
10. Is the performance indicative of the target or goals to be achieved?
11. What is energy system deployed by the athletes for specific game and skill?
12. What is the benchmark for athletes and the management for athletes’ improvement?
13. Is it a recurring KPI?
Integrating KPIs the key
Once the KPI process is established, testing alone will not indicate incremental gains. A KPI goal has to be addressed and reached every session. For example, the athlete may focus on speed/cod/strength, or power work/balance, or stability/aerobic sessions/recovery sessions, depending on the goal. The idea is to make sure that athletes are addressing at least a part of the component in their training regime, with a specific goal in mind for every session.
As a professional coach or a manager, one needs to ensure, with clear information and data, that the KPIs provide valuable insight into how athletic performance has improved.
KPIs should identify a quantifiable shift or improvement within a specific time frame, and should not be in place to simply have athletes complete tasks by a particular time or date by just ticking the box. It has to be a foolproof approach to improving performance.
Assessment and monitoring
The review process must be vigorous and expansive, and must encompass all areas so that it effectively spots the areas that need improvement or even an overhaul. Reviews should be conducted at regular intervals throughout the year by using a combination of constant informal feedback along with measurement against key performance indicators. Regular monitoring over a period of time is required to derive the best desired result through the mechanism of constant feedback.
Evaluation and new plans
Any plan needs to undergo evaluation and transformation with a new project with different objectives, goals, and time frames. The new plan should include information, analysis from a previous plan, time frames, deadlines, specific goals, and strategy-inclusive protocols for each athlete, specific to skill and game requirements, etc.