This post is part of a series called “Coach Dashboard”, in which we explore the key features Athlyts offers to coaches, and the way in which we add value to their efforts on a daily basis.
When we first started prototyping Athlyts, one of the most common questions we’ve heard from competitive coaches was “Can I get daily updates on the status of my athletes?”.
As we began tackling this topic, we soon realised that it’s quite a tough nut to crack.
First, because it involves getting information from athletes on a daily basis. That means that you need to offer them both a great experience in doing so - otherwise they won’t be coming back to the app to do it- as well as a value-add to their own lives as athletes. In the end, “just because the coach said so” is not a sustainable long term motivator.
Second, because once you have that information from athletes, the way in which you show it to the coach requires a lot of thought. It would be very easy to just dump all the info on the screen, and overload the coach with a tremendous amount of charts and figures and colours. As if you expect each coach to be a market data analyst. This is where we see a lot of other tools in the market falling short as well: in the way in which they show the most relevant data, in the most relevant way, at the most relevant time.
So, with these challenges in mind, we set about designing our own coaching dashboard, following a few key principles.
Keep it as simple as possible
As Einstein famously said, “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”. We therefore put thought, and many iterations together with coaches, on what would be the very simplest set of information which needs to be shown in order to allow a coach to make decisions on a daily basis.
Also, “simple” is a moving target, because what is simple to a coach who is just starting with Athlyts is no longer sufficient for a coach who is using the platform daily for months. To that point, we’ve built in smart filtering and sorting, to enable for a variety of use cases and needs, all on a “get it as you needed it” approach.
Focused on daily decision making
The main goal, in our view, of why a coach should use the dashboard is to be able to make daily decisions. Decisions about the coming training structure, about each athlete’s current level of fitness, as well as about the team’s overall status.
We believe that the usefulness of such a tool relies primarily in the amount of “actionable information” it gives a coach.
What the coaches infer from the information really matters
At Athlyts we are deeply passionate about bringing the world of science into daily use for performance improvement and injury minimisation. To that end, we’ve spent time and research trying to figure out what are useful paradigms, at a meta level, of thinking about information overload and decision-making in the context of ASRM tools (Athlete Self-Reported Measures). Our conclusion, up to this point, has been that one of the most important aspects we can help coaches with is inference-based information communication. Quite a mouthful huh?
Here is an excerpt from a scientific paper we really liked which addresses this topic, called “What is unified validity theory and how might it contribute to research and practice with athlete self-report measures”:
“Validity is traditionally defined as ‘whether a test measures what it is supposed to measure’. For example, does an anxiety inventory measure anxiety, or does it measure something else (eg, depression)?
Unified validity theory arose from advances in validation research within psychometrics across the last half-century.
The foundations underpinning unified validity theory contrast traditional views in two important ways.
- Validity is more about inferences than about measures: A ‘measure’ cannot be valid or invalid, ‘per se’. The question of validity is more about what researchers intend to do with the measure, than the measure itself. A low score on an ASRM may accurately reflect an athlete’s fatigue levels, but not their anxiety levels, so researchers may ‘validly’ introduce a recovery measure, but inappropriately refer the athlete to a sports psychologist.
- Validity is an ‘integrative, evaluative judgement’: This means that researchers continually assess the cumulative evidence base from multiple sources to decide how appropriate an inference would be using a certain ASRM (eg, measuring daily fatigue levels), rather than giving a binary ‘yes/no’ pronouncement.
You can easily replace “researchers” with “coaches” in the quote above, for the same effect and conclusion: it’s more about what you intend to do with the information than the information in and of itself.
What that means practically: we have put a lot of thought in the type and quality of information we show to the coaches, with the goal of allowing them to make specific inferences, useful in a day to day decision making process.
User Interface drives behaviour at a subconscious level
There is significant research showing that the hue and intensity of a color - think about typical semaphore colours of red, yellow and green - can generate significant mental biases, strongly depending on culture as well. Which means that the colours used when designing an interface should be thought through as much as anything else on the screen.
We’ve theresport obsessed in trying to offer the highest quality experience to the coach, down to the minute details such as the shapes of the icons we use, and how much information should be packed into each part of the screen (answer: as simple as possible but not simpler :) thanks Einstein!)
Here is an overview of how the coach dashboard currently looks like.
In the next post we’ll be exploring in depth some of the key features that the Coach dashboard has to offer, and what all of those colourful symbols mean :)
Onwards & upwards - together,
Your Athlyts team
Athlyts is a tech platform for individual-centered athletic development.
We believe in helping athletes improve and manage themselves by focusing on their needs and dynamics. At the same time, our “Coach” app is dedicated to serve and support the coaching staff on an everyday basis, in ways that feel intuitive and relevant. Together we want to push the quality of each athlete’s development and performance level, while taking care of their health and reducing injuries.
We also believe we can have a lasting contribution by innovating on the key tech and science aspects which can support athletes and coaches everyday. Our attention is primarily focused on observing and listening, in order to understand what really works and what doesn’t. That’s why our platform offers a tremendous amount of functionality for free, as part of our vision to elevate the world of sports globally, together.
If you haven’t given Athlyts a try yet, we warmly encourage you to do so: whether you are an individual athlete or a coach, club or federation aiming to onboard hundreds of athletes, our platform is simple, fast and free!
Also do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have questions or ideas and feedback on how we could further improve.