Matches, Science, Technology

It’s Time For Instant Replay in Soccer! UEFA Champions League Analysis – Soccer Fitness Gols Video Blog #39: 5/1/2017

Hi Everyone,

last week, the second-leg matches of the UEFA Champions League quarter final were played, and one match in particular – that between Spain’s Real Madrid and Germany’s Bayern Munich – ended in controversy thanks to two consecutive, late, off-side goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo, goals which sealed the outcome for Madrid.

In this edition of the Soccer Fitness Gols Video Blog, we discuss how the addition of instant reply in soccer could have alleviated and even eliminated the controversy surrounding the outcome of this match.

Hope you like it and as always, please feel free to post your thoughts/comments!

 

Fitness, Science, Technology

Coaches – Why You NEED to Start Monitoring Training Load/Intensity NOW – Gols Video Blog #32: 3/14/2017

Hi Everyone,

this week in the Soccer Fitness Gols Video Blog, I am discussing the importance of coaches and fitness coaches monitoring the training load and intensity of their training sessions and games.  I also discuss the use of a simple tool, the Borg 0-10 Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale (provided below) which is a cost-effective way for any coach at any level to keep track of these metrics.  Simply put, if you do not monitor how hard your athletes are working and their physical responses to the stress of training and games, then you are simply guessing when planning future training sessions – and to me, this is not acceptable for high performance sports!

I hope you enjoy the Blog and as always, please feel free to post your thoughts/comments!

Borg0-10RPEScale

Fitness, Science, Technology

The Soccer Fitness Drop Jump Test – An Efficient and Effective Way to Measure Agility in Athletes

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Written by Soccer Fitness Staff member Alexandra Giannone, edited by Richard Bucciarelli.

The drop-jump test is a vertical plyometric exercise that is used to evaluate an individuals
explosive power (Ebben & Petushek, 2010) as well as a measurement of their eccentric leg
strength and agility.

To perform a drop-jump one must stand on box, with one foot hanging off the edge and their hands on their hips. The individual will then step down, hitting the ground with both feet, once contact with the ground is made they must then rapidly explode and jump up
as high as possible.

For a more explosive jump it is crucial for them to utilize their stretch shortening cycle (SSC) to its full capacity. When the eccentric/concentric phases of a movement are coupled, a more powerful contraction is produced. During the eccentric phase, active muscles are pre-stretched and absorb energy. Part of this energy is temporarily stored and then reused during the concentric contraction phase of the SSC. A short transition between the eccentric and the concentric phase is necessary for this elastic energy to be used optimally (Flanagan & Comyns, 2008).

The ground contact time in these plyometric exercises are an important variable for strength and conditioning. Athletes that wish to increase maximum jump height can benefit from longer ground contact times, allowing them to generate maximum force and maximum jump height. However, an athlete that needs to improve their maximum velocity sprinting speed would require the plyometric exercise to have shorter contact times.

Examining the ground contact times of an athlete during these plyometric exercises will give a coach/trainer an excellent indication of whether the exercise being performed is beneficial to the athletes’ specific sport. In a recent study examining the use of the drop jump, male athletes were found to have had shorter contact times, and produced the highest maximum and and mean mechanical power, as compared to female athletes (Walsh, Arampatzis, Schade, & Brüggemann, 2004).
To evaluate an individual’s drop jump performance and explosive strength, their reactive
strength index (RSI) must be measured (Ebben & Petushek, 2010). RSI is equal is jump height (JH) divided by contact time (CT) (RSI = JH/CT). CT is defined as the time between the first foot contact with the force platform and when the subject’s feet left the platform. JH is characterized as the time between the subjects feet leaving the force platform and when they contacted it again (Stephenson, Ebben, Flanagan, & Jensen, 2011).

Drop jump and reactive strength index can be assessed using a variety of methods. At Soccer Fitness, athletes have the opportunity to be assessed using OptoJump, an
innovative system analysis and measurement, consisting of a transmitting and receiving bar. The system detects any interruptions in communication between the bars and calculates duration (ex. jump height and contact time) A system like this allows for assessment and optimization of performance to the world of competitive sport (Microgate, 2014).

Agility is a term that is very controversial due to the result of multiple factors and various
disciplines in sports science. A biomechanist, a motor learning scientist and a strength and conditioning coach can all have different perspectives as to what influences agility performance.  A comprehensive definition of agility would recognize the physical demands (strength and conditioning, cognitive processes (motor learning) and technical skills (biomechanics) (Sheppard & Young, 2006).

In order to assess agility the movement/exercise must feature an element of
reaction and/or decision-making in addition to the particular change of direction. There are multiple tests that determine an individuals change in direction ability, some include, the Illinois test, 5-0-5 test, and the Zigzag run test. However, these tests do not show a significant relationship with one another. This means that an athletes scoring on different change of direction tests depends on the movement demands of the test protocol. In addition, change of direction may also differ depending on whether the athletes cutting movements are executed with their dominant or non-dominant leg (Gamble, 2012). The drop-jump was also compared to a 20 metre sprint exercise that contained three- directional changes and was found that there was no significant correlation between the two. It was suggested that reactive strength, due to the SSC involvement, is a better predictor and has a stronger relationship with change of direction speed (Young, James, & Montgomery, 2002).
Overall, strength and power measures have an influence on change of direction speed
(CODS), but this relationship is only observed when comparing tasks involving CODS over
short distances. Sports that involve these short distances, such as badminton and soccer, strength and power have a stronger relationship with CODS than athletes who perform higher speeds over longer distances with directional changes (Negrete & Brophy, 2000).

Fitness, Science, Technology

Soccer Fitness Gols Video Blog #13: Friday, December 4th, 2015

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the next edition of the Soccer Fitness Gols Video Blog. In this Blog, I will be providing weekly video content relating to all things soccer and fitness. In this edition, I discuss how, at the Soccer Fitness Training Centre, we use our high speed running treadmills in combination with Dartfish camera-based software to do running gait analysis with our athletes.

I Hope you enjoy it, and as always, please feel free to post thoughts/comments!

Fitness, Science, Technology

Soccer Fitness Gols Video Blog #10: Friday, November 13th, 2015

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the next edition of the Soccer Fitness Gols Video Blog. In this Blog, I will be providing weekly video content relating to all things soccer and fitness. In this edition, I discuss the effectiveness of backwards running – both on the ground, as well as on a high speed / high incline treadmill – at training the hamstrings as hip extensors.

I Hope you enjoy it, and as always, please feel free to post thoughts/comments!

Fitness, For Parents, Technology

Why Use the Gols Mobile Fitness App? Volume 5 – Social Connectivity

Starting tomorrow, and over the weekend of Friday, January 30th – Sunday, February 1st, we will be showcasing our mobile fitness app, Gols, at the 2015 National Soccer Coaching Conference, held at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Athletic Centre in down town Toronto.  As a lead-up to the event, I will be posting a few brief summaries of the components of our app that make it the best choice for anyone aspiring to improve their fitness in order to help them play the game, regardless of the level at which they play.

In this fifth and final instalment, I will be discussing the feature of our app that helps to motivate our users and keep things engaging throughout the exercise program: social connectivity.  Studies have shown that support from family, friends, and peers is one of the key factors influencing an individual’s ability to remain committed to an exercise program.  The advent of social media in the last 5-10 years has made making – and building on – these connections easier than ever before.

With the Gols app, we have included features that allow our users to compare, compete with, and communicate with their family, friends, and peers while progressing through their exercise programs.  Some of the key aspects of the social connectivity of our app include:

  • “Leaderboard” feature, which lets users compare their fitness assessment scores with other users to see how they stack up
  • Assessment Standards and Norms, that we have built in to all of our assessments, which are age- and gender-specific
  • Sharing through Facebook and Twitter, so that users can let their friends and the online community know about how well they are doing and whether or not they are reaching their “gols”

We are honoured and excited to be a part of the largest coaching conference in Canada, and are looking forward to seeing you all at the Soccer Fitness Gols vendor booth!

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic.  Drop me a line here to get the conversation started.

Fitness, For Parents, Technology

Why Use the Gols Mobile Fitness App? Volume 4 – Practical Workout Scheduling

In less than 1 week, on the weekend of Friday, January 30th – Sunday, February 1st, we will be showcasing our mobile fitness app, Gols, at the 2015 National Soccer Coaching Conference, held at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Athletic Centre in down town Toronto.  As a lead-up to the event, I will be posting a few brief summaries of the components of our app that make it the best choice for anyone aspiring to improve their fitness in order to help them play the game, regardless of the level at which they play.

In this fourth instalment, I will be discussing an aspect of our app that makes it a popular choice for all users with a busy schedule and time constraints: practical workout scheduling.  Having worked in the fitness industry for my entire adult life, I can say that almost everyone, regardless of their age, gender, profession, or level of fitness/athletic ability, cites a lack of time as one of the reasons they do not exercise more.  A second constraint which is common among most adults is that, in combination with a lack of time, they would also prefer workouts that are convenient and do not require fancy equipment and/or expensive gym memberships.  Thus a successful exercise program for busy adults must involve workouts that are convenient and practical, that do not take a lot of time to complete, and do not require access to expensive equipment or facilities.

It was with these ideas in mind that we created the Gols exercise programs.  Each of our 5 components of fitness (strength, power, speed, endurance, and flexibility) comprise 8 weeks of training, with 2 workouts per week (16 training sessions in total).  Each workout, for each of the 5 fitness components, and in each of the 8 weeks / 16 training sessions, can be completed start-to-finish in a maximum of 30 minutes.  What’s more, the exercises and running workouts require no equipment except for your smart phone, and the can be completed anywhere (even on a soccer pitch)!  The practicality of our entire exercise programming in the Gols app means that users can get the results they want with time commitment and expectations that are reasonable for even the busiest individuals.  There are no more excuses for why you cannot get in better shape.  The Gols app has you covered!

We are honoured and excited to be a part of the largest coaching conference in Canada, and are looking forward to seeing you all at the Soccer Fitness Gols vendor booth!

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic.  Drop me a line here to get the conversation started.