Schalke 04 has been utilizing Firstbeat Sports since the beginning of the 2019/20 Bundesliga season.

This is the first year of a three-year contract as the Ruhr region club focuses on data-based training optimization, player recovery, and individualized player support that goes beyond training. For instance, internal stress monitoring has become an essential aspect of training management and underlines the idea that no external mechanical performance takes place without internal stress.

As the Bundesliga returns following the winter break, Firstbeat sports scientist Christoph Rottensteiner looks back on implementing the Firstbeat Sports system with Schalke during the summer.

“It was extremely exciting and very intense at Schalke as the players returned to training following the offseason break to prepare for the new season. They completed the initial checks in the laboratory and, of course, had to find their way back into everyday training during preseason,” recalls Rottensteiner.

“It was very important to be able to support the then new team of coaches around David Wagner with the Firstbeat Sports System, because the hectic pace and the organizational work for the athletics coaches Bob Schoos and Klaus Luisser is enormous in these preparation phases of the season.”

Using TRIMP/min to Precisely Regulate Training

“It was very important for us to record the Firstbeat data from the start of the preparation phase of the season – preseason – in order to be able to use the system optimally throughout the rest of the season”, explains athletics trainer Klaus Luisser. “Firstbeat parameters such as the aerobic and anaerobic Training Effect or acute and chronic TRIMP values were already well known to me from my time at Eintracht Frankfurt and were already a fixed component for internal stress management at that time.”

As with last summer’s preparation phase, the German club used the recent winter break effectively. The start of the second half of the season has begun well and Schalke finds itself in the hunt to qualify for European competition next season.

“We’re proud that a club the size of Schalke has taken a long-term approach by opting for a three year Firstbeat Sports Premium+ contract. This speaks to a great deal of trust in scientific analysis and their appreciation of the need for internal monitoring,” continues Rottensteiner.

This sentiment is shared by Schalke athletic trainer, Schoos:

“We record every training session and analyze the data in order to optimally use the full potential of the Firstbeat Sports system and, ultimately, our training time as we build to game day.”

Lactate-Controlled Training and Real-Time Monitoring

“With Firstbeat Sports, we have clearly taken the next step in the field of cardiovascular fitness,” says Schoos. “For example, it was possible for us – in both preparatory phases – to combine our lactate-controlled training with real-time monitoring through Firstbeat, and to integrate it very well into the training routines. All of this helps us during the season when the schedule is tight and training time is valuable.”

Over all, the features from the Firstbeat Sports Premium+ package, including the API interface for Schalke’s in-house data platform, will simplify the integration of the system over the next three years and make access to the necessary data faster and more flexible for the entire training staff.

“What still impresses me most is how there is a uniform openness and determination to embrace new methods and technologies throughout the organization, right down to the head coach,” says Rottensteiner on the Royal Blue’s philosophy.

“This actually provides the most important basis for ensuring that the club and especially the players can ultimately benefit as much as possible from Firstbeat Sports and makes sure that it isn’t only one person that is familiar with the metrics we use.