The NRL is one of the world's most competitive rugby league competitions, and it takes a lot of work to produce a successful player. From keeping a close eye on nutrition, to stepping it up in the gym, to relaxing off the field, players need a balanced approach to perform at their peak.
We asked two nib Newcastle Knights – Trent Hodkinson and Nathan Ross – which everyday apps they use to measure their performance levels.
"We spend two hours doing drills on the field, break for lunch, then have a one-hour weights session and a wrestling session in the afternoon," says Trent.
"On top of the daily routine, there are recovery sessions, video sessions, as well as physio and massage. It drops off a little during the season, though travel time for away matches also eats into the week."
Fit for a king
Trent's primary focus is on weight control and diet, and he uses an app called CalorieKing that lets him look up the calorie content of more than 22,000 foods popular in Australia. By tapping on a food, you can quickly access information such as protein, fibre, saturated fat, cholesterol and alcohol content.
Trent initially used the app every day, but once you get into a routine he says, you only need to log in when you have a meal outside the meal plan. "I also use it if I decide to change a meal", says Trent. "For example, I usually have tuna, rice and veggies for lunch, but if I want to change that, I log onto the app to help make an appropriate choice."
"Once a week, I also allow myself a meal outside the plan which I call a 'cheat meal'. If it’s something like pizza, I can use the app to look at it."
It’s all in the wrist
Nathan is lucky – he doesn't put on weight easily, so he doesn't have to watch his diet as closely as Trent. His focus is on exercise and he uses a Fitbit, the world's most popular activity tracker.
Fitbit is a wearable device (usually worn on the wrist) which monitors factors such as daily steps, distance travelled, calorie intake, heart rate and pulse, hydration and sleep patterns.
Fitbit's mobile phone app allows users to log their results and monitor how many calories are burned during workouts, as well as to set daily or weekly goals to stay on track. The device also comes with a USB stick to sync data to the user's account via Fitbit Connect.
If you are deskbound during the day, there's also a friendly reminder to move, to help you achieve the recommended target of 250 steps an hour.
"With an exercise calendar logging your routine, you're more likely to stay focused and concentrate on the best exercises for you", says Nathan.
Fitbit's tracker can record your sleep in either 'sensitive' mode for detailed reporting, or 'normal' mode for a more basic idea of your sleep patterns.
Nathan checks into his Fitbit data twice a day; while having breakfast to see how he slept, then in the evening to monitor his activity for the day.
It's not easy for Trent and Nathan to juggle the demands of being professional rugby league players with their lives outside the game – including planning for their future after they retire – but both are adamant about maintaining a work-life balance.
Trent is studying building and construction at TAFE. He also has 'Tren7s Kick for Kids'; each game, he dedicates his conversions to a child spending time in hospital and writes their name on his kicking tee. He also visits them in hospital and presents them with a personalised nib Newcastle Knights jersey.
Nathan recently completed his registered real estate agents' certificate. He plays golf and goes surfing but, with a three-year-old son and another baby on the way, he and his partner don’t have much spare time.
If you are interested in using technology to improve or maintain your health, check-out our article on 5 free health apps that won't suck up your smartphone memory.