Topsportslab directs the Red Lions in their physical development journey towards Rio 2016 Olympic success
In 2008 the Belgium’s National men’s hockey team (BNT) qualified for the first time in history for the Olympics in Beijing. They ended 9th but missed an Olympic Certificate. In 2010 TopSportsLab was introduced by the physical and medical staff to support them in a scientific way in terms of continuous monitoring and injury prevention.
There has always been, and still is, the help of the Belgian Olympic and Interfederal Committee. The BOIC always believed in the Red Lions to qualify for the Olympics.
Marc Coudron is the chairman of the Royal Belgian Hockey Association (KBHB)
It is BNT’s objective to win a medal at the 2016 Olympics. In order to achieve this the technical staff set up both a short and a long term performance plan. For the 2012 Olympics the Red Lions required the development of a structured, consistent and physical development plan. The plan needed to be sustainable and personalized per athlete and included a player’s tracking mechanism to prepare the athlete for the future, capable of winning a medal at the 2016 Olympics, starting this week.
In this way the Topsportslab web based application has been used during the past years and tournaments to monitor the players continuously. Furthermore, the TopSportsLab staff coordinated numerous physical screenings of the Belgian Red Lions in cooperation with the physical and medical staff of the Red Lions.
A visual summary of the two specific screenings can be found in the videos below. The first video (in dutch with French subtitles) was made in april 2014 and the second (in dutch and English with English subtitles) in april 2016.
Today we have done some injury prevention exercises to find out which risks each of us have to get injured.
Thanks to the in-depth and individualized screenings we undergo, we get a blue-print of each of our athletes; What’s his posture? How does he move and what’s his power, strength, mobility and flexibility?
This way we are aiming at building up and maximizing the fitness level of our players in such a fashion that within 6 months we have a squad that can perform optimally in Rio.
Tom Mertens is the physiotherapist of the Belgian Red Lions and is currently accompanying the team in Rio.
- Achieve excellence through professional asset management
- Implement top-down players tracking and monitoring system throughout the whole federation
- Apply state-of-the-art performance management techniques to hockey
- Full TopSportsLab application implementation and increased professionalism to national youth teams
- Create long term sustainable success plan which can operate regardless of the coach in charge
The road to Rio: 3 core programs
Actually, we started before Bejing 2008. The first plan was ‘closing the gap’: We were not far from a qualification when I started as president in 2005 with Bert Wentink as High Performance Manager and Top Hockey Manager for Belgium. We were not far from a top 12 place and therefore very close to the qualification for the Olympics. Closing the gap was thus achieved with the qualification for the Olympic Games in Beijing (2008).
The second program was “keep the flame burning”. We have now reached the Olympics, so we have to keep that trajectory. That program has been reached after the qualification of both our men and our women for the Olympic Games of London (2012). That was brilliant.
After “keep the flame burning” we now have the “Push to the Podium” mentality. This has been successful, resulting in a second place at the World Championships in Boom (201)3; A gold medal at various tournaments in the World League and a few months ago we became 2nd in the Champions Trophy in India.
That was extremely important to feel the push to the podium mentality.
The next step is to reach the podium at the Olympic Games in Rio.
In 2010, TopSportsLab was selected as preferred long term operational excellence partner in terms of physical fitness and medical follow up. Monthly meetings with technical and medical staff were held to tighten the collaboration. Whereas 3 head coaches have been in charge since 2010, the collaboration between KBHB staff and Topsportslab remained intact. Topsportslab keeps track of scientific breakthroughs on the market ensuring KBHB to be the first mover on innovation. The following implementation plan is in place:
7-stage implementation Plan
- Undertaking of a baseline screening to assess the current physical status of all players
- Install periodical, in-season physical screenings
- Injury prevention screening, developed with KBHB medical staff, rolled out as a “consensus statement” throughout the federation
Upon the results of these screenings, TopSportsLab provided the staff with both physical and injury risk profiles for all players
The medical and technical staff use this to adjust and/or individualize the different physical and injury prevention programs (strength training, aerobic endurance training etc.)
- Scientific knowledge about workload monitoring (HR&GPS) was implemented during tournaments and competitions
- Approach was also implemented in both youth selections and women’s teams
- KBHB hires a Topsportslab performance analyst
- 2011: 5th EC
- 2012: 5th CT, 5th Olympic Games
- 2013: 2nd EC, 2014: 5th WC
- Numerous youth talent were selected for the first national team.
- Workload management implemented throughout the youth selections
- World ranking in 2010: 25th. In 2015: 4th
- A significant improvement of the physical status in general, and the different motor abilities in particular over the years after the implementation of Topsportslab
- The national team got physically fitter overall with less variation between individual players (reporting up to 40% team improvements in Yo Yo intermittent recovery and Agility T-tests)
- Muscle injuries have been virtually eliminated
The medical checkup is intensified. Thanks to heart rate monitors the fatigue level can be measured. Subsequently, overtired players are substituted at the right time to compete again later. It is clear that the health monitoring has evolved in recent years.
Congratulations to Topsportslab to bring the athletes to an even higher level.
Other significant notes
- A vision document was developed to lay down the physical roadmap towards the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro #pushtothepodium
- Players are convinced of the effectiveness of the selected approach, they take ownership of their own progress
- The women’s team qualified for the London Olympics unexpectedly. This was the start of a development journey similar to the men, and a 4th place at EC for the women’s team.
We are always looking for innovative solutions.
We are always looking for things that will make us better.
If we train the same way every year, we will not evolve.
If we play the same way every year, other countries will surpass and outperform us.