Do you know what the main injury and illness’ you get within your programme? If you do then why are they happening and when are they happening? If you don’t know, you need to find a way of recording this stuff!!

All the research shows that the quality of an athlete’s performance is correlated to the percentage of the training programme the athlete completes. If your athletes are missing training due to illness and or injury, they are reducing their chances of performing in the summer.

There are three main reasons why athletes do not complete enough of a training programme:

  • Not executing the programme properly (eg. pulling too hard all the time)
  • Athlete not looking after themselves properly between training sessions (eg. food, sleep, hygiene…)
  • Training programme is inappropriate for the athletes training age



As a coach, you need to know whichever one it is, and take the necessary steps to increase your athlete’s chance of improving and performing.

Lets look at each one individually:

Not executing the programme properly

Most athletes are competitive and want to do better, whatever better means to them. In trying to do this they usually try too hard in training. “hey, I’m down here to train so I’m just going to smash it….”

It’s a well intentioned approach, but after a while it does not work. It is your job as a coach to know how hard they are doing each session, and then do something about it when you know they are not executing the sessions properly.

Athlete not looking after themselves

An athlete spends most of their day away from the boat shed. So what they do in the rest of their day has a huge impact on their ability to cope with the training. You are unlikely to be able to control every hour of the day for your athletes. So you need to make them aware of the impact their day to day life has on they ability to train. In order to educate your athletes you need them to measure each day how they are coping with training. This can be done via a routine of morning monitoring or some apps that record your Heart Rate Variability (HRV). This needs to be done each day on an ongoing basis to gain any insight.

And if all your athletes do it, then you will be able to see if there are any trends in what people are struggling with (eg. Virus, Ribs, sore back…)

Inappropriate training programme

You spend quite a bit of time writing training programmes. But, if the athletes are not up to it, they will not complete the programme. This by definition makes the programme wrong.

It is crucial as a coach to have a clear understanding of your athletes training age as well as their lifestyle dynamics. All these factors go into understanding how much they can tolerate. The old adage of HTFU (Harden the #### up) is not always the right answer.

Do you really understand how they are responding to training, do you have some objective data around which to have a conversation with your athlete about how they are coping?

The Team

By collecting the team’s data you can start to look into some trends around the programme. Here are 7 selected weeks out of a season.


In this graph you can see that despite the injury and illness rate is decreasing in weeks F and G (thin black line), There is a large amount of Rib injuries being reported.


Here as the overall incidence of illness and injury is increasing you can see that in weeks C and D there is a quite a bit of illness due to a Virus that is going around. By seeing this you can ask the question if this was due to the type of training the groups was doing at that time, which made them susceptible,  or maybe there was just a virus flying about.


Here is a summary of the Illness and Injury distribution over and season for a club




By collecting this kind of information it enables you to ask better questions in order to try and understand what is going on in your programme. It can help you make some educated decisions about how to change the programme the next year.

What kinds of questions does this kind of data bring up for you?

What flaws do you see in the data?

How much can you trust the data?

How do you go about getting the athletes to buy into doing this in your programme?