An interview with the S&C coach Roberto Peressutti
The strength and conditioning coach Roberto Peressutti and Italian Empoli’s football team manager Marco Giampaolo have been working together for a long time. We met Roberto and had a quick chat about the GPS monitoring system.
How often do you use GPS devices and which specific exercise drills do you usually keep under close supervision?
Well, we regularly use them on a weekly basis every time the session is devoted to on-the-field exercises, no matter whether they are intended for technical and tactical purposes or planned to achieve specific athletic goals both in terms of performance improvement and after-injury schedule.
Who is in charge of the entire GPS monitoring process and how does the strength and condition staff work as a whole?
Our team, beyond myself, includes three skilled experts who already had extensive and direct experience on the strength and conditioning field: Claudio Selmi, Stefano Rapetti and Diego Gemignani, the latter being responsible for the recovery of athletes after injury. Claudio, my colleague, is in charge of the delivery of the devices which the players generally wear immediately before the beginning of each session.
As it is clear, the staff called for a preliminary meeting so that the athletes could get gradually accustomed to the “dressing/undressing” phase of the monitoring process. Once the session is completed, all data stored in the devices are then collected and subsequently undergo further analysis. At the very start, we used to print the PDF report that the web application automatically generated after data recording but we then opted for the CSV file, the perfect solution which enabled us to put together all similar drills according to different criteria and provided important feedback in terms of workload distribution.
A brief analysis of data included in the report is carried out in order to identify the general trend of the session and to assess specific exercises we decided to monitor prior to the training. Any unexpected result is potentially helpful to make us understand whether the session has been adequately planned or if there are athletes whose parameters do not meet our requirements. At the end of the briefing, all significant data are eventually discussed with the coach.
Which are the most important parameters in terms of data analysis and how do you assess them?
Well, we basically focus on the average metabolic power parameter and the equivalent distance value. In addition, data concerning the overall number of acceleration and deceleration phases provide the staff with relevant feedback on the neuro-muscular outcome measured during the performance. Unexpected results in terms of average team values as well as uncommon trends developed in positional exercise drills are evaluated accordingly as well. Accurate planning is also crucial to balance the workload perceived by the athletes and might certainly lead to performance improvement. We are working on the creation of a database which might include all possible technical and tactical drills suggested by the coach: our main aim is, once again, to monitor the reliability of the results obtained over time.
Do you generally share data with the athletes?
No, at least not on a regular basis. Nevertheless, a member of the staff is always ready to support the players when in need of further explanation. The majority of them is well aware of all fundamental aspects linked to performance improvement.
What is your opinion about telemetry?
It is, of course, something brand new but I do not think we are ready to fully grasp its potential yet. Frankly speaking, I do not believe it may be feasible to suggest effective changes when each training session has already been planned in details in advance. Exploiting real-time data concerning the energy cost developed during exercise can nonetheless be of great help to balance adequately work and recovery phases.
Is there something you wish to add as far as your experience with the GPS monitoring system is concerned?
We noticed that taking into consideration too many parameters in the assessment phase may be highly misleading since not all of them are relevant for each exercise drill the staff or the coach proposes. I guess the next challenge might be the search of a summary index which could be extremely helpful to refine planning.
Thank you very much and all the best for the second half of the season.