Three years ago, amateur football club SV Fügen decided to try out the Firstbeat Sports solution. Back then, they were playing in the 5th division of the Austrian league. Today, they are in the 3rd division, thanks to better game preparation and play enabled by Firstbeat.
Performance Monitoring Creates Opportunities
“For me as a coach it is very important to support my players, particularly in strength and conditioning,” says head coach Thomas Luchner. “It is often difficult to control the load correctly and get the players their target fitness. We looked at several systems to see how we could use technology to help us.”
“In the amateur leagues, I see monitoring HR-based data as the greatest added value. Whether a player runs 8.2 km or does 7 sprints more is nice to know, but that does not provide insights for training load control.”
Co-trainer Thomas Bauman adds, “The Firstbeat system has taken us to a new level in terms of endurance and performance. For instance, now we can take individual players out of training or adjust their intensity during training to keep the load at a good level. Such training control would have been unthinkable before!”
“We are very grateful that the club association made it possible for us to purchase and use Firstbeat. As a purely amateur club, we can get a taste of the professional life, so to say.”
The team trains three times a week and has a game on the weekend. This is quite a commitment given that all the players have a regular day job to keep up with as well!
Firstbeat Sports is used for every session. “The data we get is perfect for training control,” says Luchner. “We monitor the data in real time and adjust the intensity if necessary. For instance, if we see the load is too high, we can end a session early.”
The coaches focus on four key metrics: Training Effect, TRIMP, Training Status, and ACWR. “With these values, we try to optimally harmonize stress and recovery, as well as reduce players’ susceptibility to injury,” explains Luchner. “We have been extremely successful in this in recent years. Our players have had markedly fewer injuries.”
“We were surprised, especially at the beginning, by the extreme difference between training and playing,” he adds.
The team uses the built-in automatic reporting system for the players so they can also reflect on the training in terms of load. The players really look forward to the reports, too. They ask for the report if for some reason it doesn’t arrive as expected.
The data and the benefits for load control are also regularly explained in team meetings to ensure everyone understands the purpose of data collection and how to make use of the results.
Encouraging Personal and Group Development
“I’m always trying to develop myself further,” says Luchner. “When I learn, my team learns, too. We get better, and we enjoy our game more. Of course, one hopes, as do I, to turn this hobby into a profession, and that can only be achieved with hard work and constant development.”
“Firstbeat Sports has taken my hobby to a new level. It showed me how to structure my daily training better, taught me to allow players to recover, and much more. I can prepare players now to go into a game absolutely FIT. In the amateur field, however, one should be careful that the players do not deal with it too much.”
David Egger, captain of the SV Opbacher Fügen, agrees: “We invest a lot of time and energy in football, but players and coaches have a job or study. It is important to use the available training time as well and effectively as possible. The Firstbeat system allows the coaches to optimally control and adjust the intensity for both the team as a whole and for individual players.”
When the new system was introduced, players were very skeptical about the Firstbeat system. Smartwatches were more common and familiar to the players. As the team learned about the data and the system, players became more and more motivated by the monitoring results.
“Through the analysis after each training session and game,” explains David, “players are always informed about our current load. It is interesting to also see how many players compare and discuss their values directly after a session.”
“The championship title and promotion to the 3rd league is a very big success for SV Fügen. Firstbeat certainly made a significant contribution.”
Bridging the Pandemic and Achieve Goals
The Firstbeat Sports system was an extremely important companion during the Covid-19 lockdowns. Coaches were able to observe the individual training of the players and give feedback on stress.
The last canceled season had to be finished in just three weeks. The team had to play five games over that period, and that was after nearly six months of no football. “We had four weeks to bring the team up to speed for those games and keep players injury-free,” recalls Luchner.
“Load management is extremely important. We managed to get all the players fit and keep them fit. I think Firstbeat Sport played a big part in us becoming champions last year and moving up to the third highest league in Austria.”
SV Fügen have been doing very well, indeed. This year the goal is to maintain their 3rd division ranking, but continue to raise the team’s performance to the next level.
Header image: SV Fügen
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