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.

Fitness, For Parents, Technology

Why Use the Gols Mobile Fitness App? Volume 3 – Performance Tracking

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 third instalment, I will be discussing something we have included in our app that ties in well with everything our parent company, Soccer Fitness Inc., has been doing in soccer-specific sports science for the past 10 years: performance tracking. There is a great quote, from a former baseball player with the New York Yankees in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s named Yogi Berra, that reads as follows:

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wind up someplace else”

I don’t think I could find a better way to sum up and explain the reason why tracking performance in a mobile fitness app is so important.  Anyone who participates in a fitness training program, whether they are an elite athlete or simply trying to shed a few pounds, needs to know how they are progressing through their program and if they are in fact on track to achieve their goals.  With the Gols app, users are assigned specific targets (or “gols”) based on their performance in our standardized fitness assessments.  After completing workouts, users receive live and instant feedback regarding these targets.  Our unique system uses technology such as GPS, to monitor and track performance, and uses the results and data generated to adjust the targets (“gols”) in subsequent workouts.  Individuals beginning the journey to better health, fitness, and on-field play using the Gols app will benefit from our performance tracking because, as the quote says, they will know exactly “where they are going,” and will never “wind up someplace else.”

Fitness, For Parents, Technology

Why Use the Gols Mobile Fitness App? Volume 2 – Customized Workouts

In less than 2 weeks, 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 second instalment, I will be discussing one feature of our app that separates it from hundreds of other fitness apps of the market today: customized workouts.  In keeping with our philosophy at Soccer Fitness of only providing science-based programming, we have developed a unique system that truly customizes the workouts in our Gols app to each individual.  We have accomplished this objective by combining some of the latest smart phone technology (including GPS and accelerometry) with our own soccer-specific and standards-based fitness assessment protocols for each of the 5 components of fitness (strength, speed, power, endurance, and flexibility).  Users of the Gols app must perform our fitness assessments, and the data taken from these assessments is used to customize the intensities and workloads of each workout, based on each individuals’ specific physical capacity and level of fitness.

Because all workouts are customized, users will always be presented with targets – “gols” – for each individual workout that will be challenging, but not too easy or too difficult to achieve.  As users’ fitness levels improve, subsequent fitness assessments built into every program will ensure that the targets or “gols” change to reflect each individual’s increasing physical capacity.  In the long run, anyone who begins training with our Gols app – regardless of their present level of physical ability, will constantly be pushed to achieve simple, customized, realistic, and science-based goals, helping them to increase their fitness level and improve their performance of the beautiful game.

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.

Announcements, Science, Technology

Why Use the Gols Mobile Fitness App? Volume 1 – Soccer-Specific Training

In less than 2 weeks, 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 first instalment, I will be discussing probably the most unique component provided by our Gols app: soccer-specific training.  Everything about the exercises and training programs in the Gols app is specific to the sport of soccer.  Drawing on my 30 years of experience as a player, coach, fitness coach, and soccer-specific sports scientist, the Gols app combines proven science-based training principles with easy to follow exercise routines that will allow any athlete or person to improve their soccer-specific fitness.  Examples of soccer-specific training in the Gols app include:

  • Programs sub-divided into the 5 components of fitness that are the most critical to soccer performance:  strength, speed, power, endurance, and flexibility
  • Strength exercises that involve all the major muscle groups and movement patterns used while playing the sport, and which can be done anywhere, including on a soccer pitch
  • Speed exercises and workouts designed to improve performance of the same types of sprints (forwards, backwards, sideways, and changing of direction) and distances (5 to 30 metres) used in the sport
  • Power exercises and workouts designed to mimic the explosive movements (single- and double-leg jumps, forwards, sideways, and backwards) and total numbers of those movements, done in the sport
  • Endurance workouts including variations of high intensity interval training, anaerobic power training, and speed endurance training, specifically designed to improve aerobic and running performance on the field
  • Flexibility exercises and workouts designed to address the specific body parts (ankles, knees, hips, shoulders) and functional movements that can give rise to injuries and impaired performance if not trained properly

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.