Fitness, Science

UOIT Ridgeback’s Women’s Soccer Fitness Coach Tip of the Day – Day 27 – Heart Rate Monitors

The Canadian University Soccer season is here, and this year marks my 3rd season as Assistant Coach and Fitness Coach with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks Women’s Varsity Soccer Team.  This season, I will be blogging every day with a ‘Tip of the Day’ – a small piece of information about the testing, training, monitoring, or performance analysis I am doing with the team.

Today’s Tip of the Day is about monitoring of game performance.  Measuring players’ heart rates during games is an effective tool for determining the intensity of the game.  As a general rule, the higher the heart rate, the higher the intensity.  The most accurate way to measure heart rates in by using heart rate monitors, typically comprising a chest strap (which records the number of times an athlete’s heart beats through sensors that touch the skin) and some other electronic device (wrist watch, base station, computer, etc..) that records and tracks this information over the course of the game.  In my work as a soccer fitness coach I have used several different brands of heart rate monitors, including Suunto, Activio, and Polar.  All of these systems come with robust software programs that help to generate very specific and detailed reports about players’ heart rates, both live (during) and after training and games.

In general, if they are playing in intense, meaningful games, players’ average heart rates should be between 165-175 beats per minute (bpm) for females, and between 170-180 bpm for males.  Heart rate averages that are significantly below these standards are common signs that: a) players are not working hard/running very much in the game; b) specific playing positions are not running very much – example: centre backs; or c) the team has made tactical changes that have lowered the intensity of the game – example: defending deep and not pushing players forward.  Use of a high quality system of heart rate monitors that includes hardware and software can be expensive, but it is a worthwhile investment for elite youth and adult college and professional soccer teams competing at a high level.  I have been able to collect a lot of valuable data and generated reports that have been very helpful to the coaching staff for the higher level environments in which I have worked.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic.  Drop me a line here to get the conversation started.

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