Paulo Santos - Strength & Conditioning Coach at Boavista F.C.

VX Sport Interview Series




Why did you decide to get into Strength & Conditioning & Sports Science?

Since I was a kid, I loved to play sports or just do physical activities, and soccer was my favorite (still is).  Also I really liked understanding the reason behind something happening (for example, why do we start breathing harder when we run?).

It was more of a natural path than a decision, I just wanted to choose a career doing something I love, and I am so glad that it has turned out this way!



What metrics does your team like to track with the VX Sport system?

It is really good to have access to internal and external training load metrics in order to have an overall understanding of training and match loads. The VX Sport system allows us to use heart rate monitors in a way that is really ergonomic and does not disturb the players.

In general, the metrics we use are the same as most teams use. We try to use a simple approach with longitudinal monitoring of individual loads. Metrics derived from distance (different range of intensities: total distance, high speed running and sprint distance), number of high intensity accelerations and decelerations, TRIMP, and time spent at high intensity heart rate.

The VX Sport system allows us to individualize practically all metrics we use and this an essential feature for our monitoring system!



How does VX Sport technology impact/ influence how you train? 

The VX Sport technology gives an insight into training load compared with match load, and with it we may induce alterations in training. This does not mean that training should look like a match, but we should guide our training with the objective of getting better performance at matches.

It allows us to find the balance between increasing, maintaining or lowering training load within the team.



How would you approach/do speed and agility training with Boavista F.C.? 

Speed and agility are both decisive for team sports performance.

In my opinion we should focus in developing good technical abilities (developing running, change of direction, acceleration, and deceleration mechanics). In addition, the development of strength and power is of a greater importance as a foundation for the development of speed and agility. Last, but not least, the specific speed and agility training should be done at high intensities (nearly maximum, or >90% of maximum) to result in greater adaptations - we cannot develop speed if we always train with slower running velocities.



How do you share the VX Sport data with coaches, team management and the players?

First, we need to understand that different staff and players may want to know or interpret data in a range of ways, depending on their use case. So, we try to translate data and filter it to be the easiest to interpret for each group. Coaches may want to know more specific metrics and detailed content about training load, match load and the longitudinal monitoring; players may want to check overall data from training and matches and compare it to previous sessions (normally we try to translate all the numbers into graphs that make it more appealing to read).

I think this is one of the biggest challenges in Sports Science: being able to observe everything in detail but at the same time being able to translate it in the simplest way possible for everyone to understand it.



How do you build mental toughness in your athletes?

I think one of the best things in strength and conditioning is its connection with mental toughness . Working out to improve performance should be hard and sometimes (often) is done with some degree of fatigue. This naturally develops mental toughness.

We should be able to make this connection in training. Only the toughest will be able to succeed and keep improving.



How do you motivate the athletes?

Different motivation strategies will work better or worse depending on the athlete’s profile. An athlete that enjoys training will be a lot easier to motivate and does not need that much stimulation. However an athlete that does not like to train will need more stimulation and probably more external influences. In general, competition between teammates and a reward system makes for a good starting point.



What do you feel makes a strength & conditioning coaching staff most successful?

The things that make strength and conditioning staff most successful is:

  • The ability to translate scientific research into practice
  • Being adaptable to different contexts (even if sometimes we go against our own beliefs for a greater cause)
  • Communication between staff, including other staff such physios and the coaching staff



We'd like to thank Paulo for being a fantastic member of the VX Sport family, and for taking the time to share his insights with us!