XPS Book Review: Monitoring Training and Performance in Athletes

6/26/2022 5 min. reading

In this XPS Monday Series, we are reviewing another book worth reading for coaches: 

Mike McGuigan, Monitoring Training and Performance in Athletes, (Human Kinetics; First edition (2017)), with Hardcover and Kindle versions available. Here’s our first book review, if you’re looking for something else to read during the Summer. 

Over the past decade, coaches and athlete performance and training specialists have started relying on software, apps, and biometric monitoring solutions in training programs. Data from these apps and wearable devices are integral to training, injury recovery, and performance improvement. Coaches can access more data than ever before; the challenge is knowing how to use it. 

Our own solution, XPS Network, has been around for over 20-years, and is used by thousands of coaches, performance specialists, and teams worldwide. 

Mike McGuigan’s book, Monitoring Training and Performance in Athletes, published in 2017, is as relevant now as it was then. McGuigan, a professor of strength and conditioning, and an athlete monitoring consultant for elite athletes and coaches, is ideally placed to dive into the details of monitoring the training process. 

His work, papers, and elite training with teams such as the New Zealand All Blacks and Silver Ferns, helps teams and athletes get more from training and athlete performance. Making this book a must-read for coaches and performance practitioners. 


Monitoring Training and Performance in Athletes at a Glance

According to the description, “Monitoring Training and Performance in Athletes is a compilation of evidence-based guidelines and best practices of athlete monitoring for practitioners, who are increasingly being asked to implement monitoring systems and to collect, analyze, and interpret data that ultimately result in training adjustments to optimize performance.” 

It includes: “Numerous sidebars in the text provide real-world examples and application of the content to assist readers in understanding concepts and the cutting-edge, evidence-based research on athlete monitoring. Additionally, the full-color illustrations and photographs provide a visual interpretation of the information presented.” 

In the seven chapters, McGuigan covers the following: 


  • Chapter 1: Why coaches and performance practitioners should monitor athletes? Not just training-based parameters (load and intensity), but “outside” stressors, such as sleep, diet, hydration levels, social media, family life, friendships, professional relationships, finances, and anything that could impact an athlete’s neurochemical and hormonal environments. 
  • Chapter 2: An introduction to the tools coaches can use to monitor performance. Such as z-scores and t-scores, to help show how far an athlete’s performance is from the norm. Both are useful for monitoring individual athletes’ performance against their own baseline, and against the team. 
  • Chapter 3: An introduction to physiological training stress. He uses models such as Selye’s General Adaptation Model and the Fitness-Fatigue model, to help coaches understand training-induced stress responses. 
  • Chapter 4: Examples of tools to quantify training stresses, such as biometric devices, GPS, power meters, and internal load monitors, including RPE and heart rate. He doesn’t cover tools such as XPS Network, and many that have appeared since. However, numerous apps and software for sports teams integrate with biometric monitoring devices, making the data from them even more useful. 
  • Chapter 5: Measuring fitness and fatigue. In this chapter, and thanks to advances in biometric monitoring, many coaches can now track the following data: neuromuscular fatigue; heart rate measures; and hormonal, biochemical, and immunological markers. 
  • Chapter 6: How to implement and use these metrics in practice. He does cover several useful technologies; although we have to accept that there’s more available to coaches than in 2017. 
  • Chapter 7: Bringing it all together. In this chapter, McGuigan covers various ways coaches can use this data to improve performance, such as the velocity-based method. 
  • In Chapters 8 and 9, he outlines athlete monitoring guidelines for individuals and teams. 



Why is this book highly recommended? 

One reason this book is worth reading is the author’s credentials and expertise. Mike McGuigan is a professor of strength and conditioning at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in New Zealand. He’s also a member of AUT’s Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand. 

McGuigan is one of the world’s leading scientific researchers on athlete monitoring and is highly regarded internationally for his work on resistance training and strength and power development. He’s worked as a sport scientist for High Performance Sport New Zealand. He also has vast experience as an athlete monitoring consultant for elite athletes and coaches, working with high-profile New Zealand sport teams such as the All Blacks and the Silver Ferns. 

One Amazon review sums it up well: “The author does a great job of explaining the how and why behind athlete monitoring. This book is not the “end-all, be-all” to prevent injury and manage fatigue, but implementing the methods presented in the text will allow you to make a more informed decision. As a professor in an exercise and sport science program, I will be using this textbook as the basis for my athlete monitoring class!” 

In another review, Craig Pickering — a World Championship and Olympic athlete for track and bobsled, sports scientist, and sports coach — said: “I found this book very useful—monitoring the training process is something that many coaches know they should do.” 

He went on to say, “So many coaches feel like they don’t have the required knowledge base on which to build an effective monitoring program. This book aims to change that.” 


Key Takeaways: Why do we recommend this book? 

  • Monitoring athletes performance, fatigue, and training outcomes is always challenging. This book makes it easier for coaches to know how to use the data at their fingertips. 
  • It provides helpful real-world training applications for the data that coaches can monitor. Including non-training related data, such as anything that could impact an athlete’s neurochemical and hormonal environments. 
  • McGuigan does a wonderful job making often complex topics, such as statistics and using data, easier to understand and implement with practical steps. 

Would your team, club, youth association, or sports association benefit from XPS and its wide range of features? Contact XPS Network if you want to find out more, or Sign-up for a Free Trial today.

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