The Krefeld Pinguine (Krefeld Penguins) are an ice hockey team in the DEL2, the second tier ice hockey league in Germany, below the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) and ahead of the Oberliga. The team have been utilizing the Firstbeat Sports solution since Leonardo Manzano, Strength and Conditioning Coach and the CEO of Smart Training came on board two years ago.
We recently sat down with Leo to talk about how he uses Firstbeat Sports on a day-to-day basis with the team as well as his work coaching individual athletes to help improve athlete performance.
Leo’s Coaching Background – From Argentina to Germany
Following his sports science studies in San Juan and several internships as an assistant trainer working with football and volleyball teams, as well as tennis players, Leo moved to the US to do an internship training program in Washington DC, working with different kinds of athletes in different sports. Following the program, he moved to Germany, where he worked with boxers and racing drivers (Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland), and is now in his second year working with the Krefeld ice hockey team.
Getting Started with Firstbeat Sports
Leo had previously used other sensors which offer basic heart rate monitoring with his athletes, but once he started using Firstbeat, he stopped using the other systems. Being able to trust the data was also an important factor in deciding to use Firstbeat. He says:
“I was using other products with the athletes, but after I started using Firstbeat, now I only use Firstbeat. There are a lot of things in the market, but you need to be able to trust the system and trust the metrics. Sometimes when I don’t really trust the other systems or other brands, I get a demo and try it out myself. I always try it myself first, whatever I’m going to use with the athletes. I track with three or four different products at the same time and compare them – this is key to gaining trust.”
Using Firstbeat Sports on a Day-To-Day Basis with Athletes
The majority of Krefeld players use the Firstbeat Sports solution on a daily basis, with a focus on features such as the quick recovery test and training load and intensity. Leo explains in more detail:
“There are 16 players who use the system every day and we start with the three minute recovery test, and then right after that we go for some warm up or mobility, depending on the game, or if we are going to play – every week is different. I track the training intensity, both off ice and on ice, and right after that I go and download the data. It takes me five or ten minutes per day maximum. It’s simple to see in the dashboard how the training load is for everyone. What I really like about Firstbeat is these screens where you have the intensity of the training load, it’s so easy to understand.”
Most Useful Firstbeat Features
Leo uses several Firstbeat features such as the quick recovery test on a regular basis, but it is the data on training load which he finds most useful, and especially the fact that players can also be monitored remotely, which is convenient when you have athletes training in different locations at different times.
“Training load is one of the most important features to me because I know exactly when the players need to break a bit, stop a bit, or go a bit lighter, and when we can push them more. I always test subjectively by asking the athletes questions like: ‘How do you feel, how did you sleep, how was your nutrition yesterday’, I think it’s important to do that. But if you have the metrics of your body too, it helps a lot in developing good athletes.
And what I also like is that I train for example with some field hockey players, and I’m not with them the whole time. But I give them the sensors and they can wear them and use them in games in different parts of the world and they just need to save the training or the game and I can see them in my computer as if I was there. So I can see everything – that is pretty useful as well.”
Getting to Grips With the Data
For Leo, it’s not only tracking players remotely that he finds useful, but also the ability for live tracking so that he can monitor players’ heartrates in real time.
“With this live tracking, I can see how high or low the heartrate is. When I want to work in different training zones, let’s say some interval training of 150 I know exactly how many intervals and exactly the anaerobic zone that I’m training in. And I think that is pretty good. I like to know exactly which zone you are training in, if you are going very high with an athlete, because sometimes you can just see by his reaction that it looks like he’s working hard but then you can compare what is actually going on with the heartrate data.”
Using Firstbeat Sports to Optimize Individual Athlete Performance
Earlier this year, alongside his work with the Krefeld Penguins, Leo also set up his business, Smart Training, helping individual athletes to improve as much as possible. He says:
“I started out working with one player and have now grown to more athletes in different sports including tennis, hockey, basketball, and with all of them wearing Firstbeat. The idea is very simple. Trying to improve athletes in every kind of aspect. In the future the plan is to have everything an athlete needs in order to grow in one place including medical doctors and physiotherapy staff.
Using Firstbeat with Individuals Vs Teams
Although Leo only sees his individual athlete clients once or twice a week, he still encourages them to use the Firstbeat sensors during their face to face sessions and when training remotely.
“I’m maybe training these individual athletes twice a week or once a week, not every day. They get the Firstbeat sensors from me during personal training and then they need to always wear it so I know exactly what they need to do. For example if they train on a Monday and play on Saturday. Or if I train with them two times in a week I know from the Firstbeat sensors how high the training load and intensity is for them. And when they are training with me they wear the sensors 100% of the time.”
If you’re interested in learning more about the Firstbeat Sports solution you can contact us for more information. If you’re interested in working with Smart Training to improve athlete performance then you can contact Leo here.
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