Listening to and learning from our customers, we’ve developed PLAYER.Connect on behalf of the Women’s Welsh Rugby Union.
Giving coaches real-time information such as how the players are feeling, any injuries they have and where they are in their menstrual cycle helps their teams and the players stay at their peak ahead of each fixture.
A tailored training regime
In 2021, the British & Irish Lions were the first to use Vodafone’s PLAYER.Connect platform throughout their training and preparation across all three test matches on their South Africa Tour.
Using IoT technology, which gathers data from various wearable devices, the performance dashboard makes it easy for coaches to see and analyse the player’s data, making more informed performance decisions so they can get the best out of the team.
For example, mouthguards, chest straps and GPS trackers can be used to show how far players have run and how training is impacting them and their heart rate to inform the coach as to whether they can push the player harder or if more recovery time is needed.
Sleep is also monitored, and players fill in a questionnaire each day about their mood and any soreness, to help give a more holistic view.
Investigating the menstrual cycle
Now, we’re taking this data a step further by monitoring menstrual cycles too.
The first women’s side to do so, the tool is being used by Wales Women throughout the Women’s Six Nations 2023 campaign to gather data in real-time from wearable devices, showing the players’ performance, menstrual cycle phases and mental and physical wellbeing.
Players also input information themselves via a daily questionnaire which includes bodyweight, sleep quality and quantity, mood, energy, health, any medication, injury, and soreness.
Here some of the players tells us what this insight has meant for them and why it’s an important tool:
By directly linking athletes’ performance data to their menstrual cycle, PLAYER.Connect lets coaches and analysts provide a tailored diet and training regime for each individual player.
Given that 93% of female rugby players have reported menstrual cycle-related symptoms, with 67% believing these symptoms severely impair their performances, this could prove to be a powerful tool. However, the sport as a whole is still lacking guidance on how to manage such symptoms.
As Founding Principal Partner of Women’s and Girls’ rugby, Vodafone wants to change this and provide female athletes with the support they need.
That’s why we’re working with Cardiff Metropolitan University on a long-term research study too, using the data gathered by the team, to further investigate the impact of the menstrual cycle on areas ranging from concussion and injury prevention to soreness, mood and sleep.
The aim is to provide information that can help all female athletes better manage their performance and wellbeing in the future.
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