Chris Ball, the Scottish Downhill coach, was a Sports Sciences student at Edinburgh Napier in a former life and was coached himself by one of their current lecturing staff, Geraint Florida-James. As a World Cup Racer he benefited from the knowledge and facilities at the Edinburgh Napier Campus and, as a holder of a sport science degree, he appreciated the impact that specialist testing and support would have on his current squad.
And so this year the DH squad engaged in a training programme with Edinburgh Napier who provided a full sport science support package which included physiological monitoring via laboratory testing, performance analysis from field testing/support and psychological training.Back
The squad underwent several laboratory tests which were linked to further field testing during actual DH training and racing, using new novel techniques. In particular new data was collected during the field tests using GPS equipment which gave insight into both the physical demands and also the sections of the course which technically were most important to overall performance. Results from this testing was communicated to the Coach and individual riders. Riders also had individual consultations with a sports psychologist to help develop specific psychological skills to aid DH performance. In addition the squad used the facilities of Borders college to undergo strength training.
The project received some good publicity. Local papers featured the testing sessions and the BBC Adventure Show did a piece on the Fort William World Cup featuring the testing and support programme that Edinburgh Napier provided.
Laboratory testing has pin-pointed progression and weaknesses to coach and athletes and what needs to be worked on in training. The field testing was able to identify the sections of the course that were most important to overall performance and give that feedback to the riders and coach- particularly on the World Cup course prior to the Fort William race. The riders were able to develop a range of new psychological tools to help enhance their performance. The project is now in its second year of operation with plans for this to continue.Back
The novel use of the GPS technology has allowed the team/coaches to better understand the physical demands and the key tactical sections of the course which leads to the best performances.Back
All of the processes that the DH squad went through and the equipment they used are accessible to the wider public and Edinburgh Napier are keen to do so, having just invested £60m in their new Sighthill Campus which includes a brand new sports facility which, in addition to a 200m2 gym and 1200m2 sports hall, includes a biomechanics laboratory and an environmental chamber which can recreate high altitude conditions with controllable temperature and humidity levels to simulate varying climatic conditions – perfect for the mountain biker!
To have an informal chat about how you or your business could benefit and be supported to access these facilities contact Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland.Back