Iris: How it Works

Monitoring an athlete’s psychological profile and training response is a key pillar of any performance based program. While simple in concept, practical use of this data can quickly become a laborious and complex undertaking. IRIS filters incoming data from athletes, providing the coach and athlete with relevant information that reflects personalized trends. Daily data collection is performed via a brief survey on the athlete app. This quantifies three distinct areas that influence training adaptations and performance: Training Load, Emotional Wellness and Sleep Patterns.

We believe that genetic insights or training observations in isolation are insufficient for optimizing performance of you and your athletes. The notion that no two athletes are identical with respect to their response to the same training environment and protocols is the foundation of the one-size-fits-one approach that we believe in. All humans are unique and should be treated as such.

Illuminating the interface between nurture and nature has always been our goal at Athletigen and it is now a reality with Iris™, the first genomics application for human performance.

Iris Athlete

What makes Iris™ different is the use of human technology: your DNA. By combining genetics with environmental data, you can more easily understand your unique training needs, mitigate injury risk, and ultimately increase performance.athlete-explore-screen

While genotyping is recommended to get the most out of the app, Iris Athlete can be used immediately, with athletes able to start tracking their data within the app while waiting for the genotyping process to take place. Athletes are also encouraged to use our reaction time test (Rxn Time) each day. This tool can help indicate the current level of cognitive function, something that is affected by all of the metrics we track within the daily survey. A slowed reaction time can lead to reduced performance for sprinters coming out of the blocks, goalkeepers reacting to a shot, or defensive linemen reacting to the snap of a football. Emerging evidence shows that cognitive performance is associated with fatigue, inadequate recovery, and exercise performance. Many athletic disciplines involve critical decision making and concentration, and our reaction time test is an indicator of one’s cognitive function.

After completion of the genotyping process, which now takes between 2 – 4 weeks, the MyDNA tab of Iris Athlete will include a list of reports in three categories: Athletics, Nutrition, and Psychology. As the science improves, the number of categories may increase to offer additional genetic insights in all areas of training.

Within athletics lie insights into your athlete’s bioenergetics and muscle architecture. For example, those with the ACTN3 gene, or better known as the “sprint gene”, might respond better to heavy weight training and sprint training, rather than higher volume training and long distance running. Under nutrition, athletes can begin to understand how their body responds to dieting, caffeine, carbs, and fats. Finally, within the psychology section, athletes and coaches gain insight into how each athlete handles stressful situations, both mentally and physically.

Understanding the innate characteristics of your athletes in addition to their daily feedback allows you to make smarter, data-informed decisions about their routine.

Iris athlete insights

Iris Coach

Iris Coach allows you to access both short and long term trends of your athletes at your fingertips. With the Watchlist, you receive a prioritized list of athletes who may require the most immediate attention, allowing you to direct your precious time in the most meaningful way possible.

Over a period of several weeks of data capture through Iris Athlete, coaches begin to gain insights into individual trends surrounding sleep, soreness, stress, training load and other metrics. This data allows coaches to make training decisions tailored to each athlete’s needs. In real-time, coaches can now see how athletes are reacting to shifts in training and other external stressors.

Specifically, when certain metrics fall within a cautionary range, the athlete is added to the Watchlist for that day. Coaches can view all athletes currently on the list and the metrics that require specific attention. If sleep drops significantly for Athlete A and stress increases rapidly for Athlete B, the Watchlist provides the coach with an opportunity to address only the most important issues each day for each of those athletes.


A:C TL: Acute to Chronic Training Load

Contemporary training programs fluctuate between phases of stress and recovery. Iris Coach takes athlete training data and produces an A:C TL score for the overall team and for individual athletes. By combining the athlete’s rated perceived exertion (RPE) of a training session with its duration, Iris calculates this daily fluctuating ratio. As athletes consistently provide Iris with data, coaches can look at acute trends (3 days) and chronic trends (21 days) with a simple tap. The A:C TL score of the team or training group is also visible from a high level on the Overview dashboard, which combines the scores of all your athletes. Coaches can dive into each athlete’s specific trends from this screen easily, to tend to those who need it the most.

These phases of stress and recovery, if contrasted properly, allow athletes to adapt to training interventions, deliver performance and, most importantly, stay healthy. Conversely, should the athlete receive “too much” rest or training load, a subsequent increase in injury risk may be present.

Iris watchlist

Reducing Injury Risk

Understanding an athlete at their most intricate levels through their genetics and daily monitoring has endless benefits. When beta-testing with some of our early users, we found that actionable insights to change behaviour could be gathered directly from Iris trends.

Through daily feedback in the Iris questionnaire, an Athletigen coach was able to identify high levels of stress and reduced sleep levels in one of his 400m runners undergoing a rigorous academic program in engineering. Although the athlete had a scheduled increase in their training load the following week, the coach decided to lower his training load knowing the athlete’s history of hamstring injuries and a deeper understanding of his injury risks based on his genetics.

Emotional Wellness

Athletes are subject to many unplanned stressors from their environment, stemming from their family, social life, or career. Planned stress associated with training and competition is natural and necessary for adaptation and performance, but only to a certain degree. Unplanned stress coupled with poor coping ability may negatively impact athletic performance.  

Iris assesses your athlete’s mood, stress, motivation, and energy to help you identify external life events that might impact their performance, or identify periods of overtraining that may be playing a negative role on your athlete’s mental state. Pinpointing these periods of stress early can help a coach mitigate the impact of these external events. This also helps facilitate the coach-athlete relationship that otherwise may have been set aside.

Sleep Patterns

Perhaps the most important metric captured by Iris is how your athletes sleep. In the context of human health and performance, the value of sleep can not be understated. Adequate duration and quality of sleep are required in order to ensure optimal adaptation to training while decreasing the risk of injury. In the absence of a monitoring system, significant aberrations in sleep habits can occur unbeknownst to the coach. The data Iris collects includes sleep quality, duration, and latency, the length of time it takes to fall asleep. Using these questionnaire data, sleep patterns are summed up into a comprehensive aggregate score.

This score is representative of sleep duration and quality, with a 100% score reflecting a minimum of 8.5 hours of sleep daily for the past week, having the highest possible rating of quality, falling asleep quickly, and maintaining a consistent bedtime. We’ve thoroughly reviewed the effects of sleep on performance previously.

The Big Picture

Taking all the possible data collected into consideration simultaneously is no simple task. Iris makes it easy for you to collect, understand, and to devote your time where it’s needed most. For the first time ever in a mobile application, you can dive into the details of your athlete’s DNA with a tap of your screen. Iris paints a highly personalized picture of your athlete complete with actionable insights to maximize their performance. Individualized training is now a reality with Iris, an application that helps you understand your athlete inside and out.

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