Friday, June 27, 2014

What Can The US Team Expect Over the Next Few Days?


The US World Cup team has completed its group play.  Perhaps better than expected but maybe not as well as hoped.  However, there’s no debate that the team gave everything it had, rising to meet the physical challenge of three matches over 10 days.  Michael Bradley once again led the tournament’s group stage covering an average of 12.7 km or 7.9 miles per match.  In the Germany match he covered 13.1 km (8.1 miles) and performed 59 sprints.  In fact, the US team out distanced the Germans 10.2 to 9.8 km per player.  Add to that, the difficulty of playing on a rain soaked pitch and it’s easy to imagine that the match extracted a heavy physical price on the players.  What can the US expect over the next few days?  After such a physical effort, how long will it take them to recover muscle strength, speed and power?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Should We Have Expected John Brooks’ Goal?

Yesterday in a thrilling match, US defender John Brooks scored in the 86th minute to secure a win over for the Americans over Ghana. The goal came off of a corner kick delivered by Graham Zusi. An exciting play for sure and a critical 3 points for the US. But, at this point in the World Cup competition should we have expected a goal to come from a corner kick?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Prepping for the World Cup

The 2014 World Cup is ready to kick-off. Four years of preparation for an event that demands players pay a heavy physical and psychological price for success. As fans and coaches, we're excited when our team overachieves and secures unexpected points and advances to the next round. Unfortunately we’ve often seen our side underperform. They seem listless and lethargic for no particular reason, making rare and uncommon mistakes. Matches that should be easily won turn into losses. This is especially true during the critical times when multiple matches are played within a short span of time. Teams have trained on every aspect of the game and they are fit and ready to play. But is there something else needed for a team to play well? As it turns out, what teams do off the field and behind the scenes can impact success.  On the Science of Soccer Online, we have talked about a congested calendar, recovery and refueling. In this post, I’d like to us the World Cup as a framework to briefly summarize four key issues: how diet, recovery, sleep and daily hassles can play critical roles in improving or undermining performance during the match.  Links are included for additional info.

World Cup 2014 Promotion!

A once every four-years offer - 50% off our course, Soccer Diet: The Simplest Way to Improve Your Teams Performance!  Starting today and continuing as long as the US and England remain in the competition!  This is a promotional price of $25 that gives you access to all course materials and access to the course community for 5 years.

For details, click here.   (Note: this promotion cannot be combined with other discounts)

Also, all other courses offered by Sports Path are discounted as well.  Sign up today as this offer will not happen again until 2018!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

World Conference on Science and Soccer 4.0

The 4th World Conference on Science and Soccer will be held June 5-7, 2014 in Portland, OR. The growing popularity of soccer emphasizes the need to identify best practices to support player and team development. That is, a dialogue between leading researchers, coaches and clinicians with a goal of understanding what works and what doesn’t. The WCSS is aimed at individuals who are interested in the study and/or practical performance of soccer players, including sports scientists, coaches, strength and conditioning specialists, sports physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, professors and students.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Soccer Science on the NSCAA

The NSCAA has just posted the first installment of what we hope will be an ongoing series.  "Soccer Science" looks at soccer news of the day through the lens of scientific research.  Click HERE to see our first video.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Plyometric Training in Young Players Improves Multiple Markers of Performance

Coaches are constantly looking for better and more economical ways to improve their team’s performance. Often faced with limited training time, it can be difficult to improve fitness, agility, speed and power while also emphasizing the technical and tactical aspects of the game. Recently, fitness trainers have advocated plyometric training as a way to improve sprint speed. However, some have questioned whether this type of training is appropriate and effective for young players. They have also questioned whether plyometrics can improve aspects of physical performance other than speed and power. In a new study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, plyometric training is shown to affect explosive actions, endurance and kicking power in young, adolescent players.

Does Caffeine Improve Soccer Performance?

The NSCAA recently published one of my articles discussing the effects of caffeine on performance. In the article, I take an unbiased look at the research on caffeine and soccer performance. I also address both positive benefits and potential negative side effects for both young and older players.

Click here to view the article.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Player Perceptions of Artificial Turf

The use of artificial turf (AT) playing fields continues. Despite recent research on performance and health issues surrounding AT, debate over injury risks and heat still swirl around the topic of “playing on plastic”. The safe use of AT is a complex issue and perceptions can influence how players perform as well as their susceptibility to injury. A recent study shows that professional players generally view AT negatively and feel that it raises the risk of injury and results in more delayed-onset muscle and joint soreness. Some of their perceptions may be rooted in evidence while some may not. However, it is important for coaches and trainers to understand how players feel about playing and training on AT.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Balance, Fatigue and Carbohydrates

Over the past few years, coaches and researchers have been asking how balance affects different athletes. For sports such as gymnastics, the need for balance is obvious. In other sports like soccer, research shows that the ability to maintain balance also influences performance during cutting and changing directions. We also know that balance plays an important role in injury risk. Balance results as a response to various sensory inputs – both visual and mechanical. The central nervous system (CNS) processes this information then activates the appropriate muscles to reposition the body and/or to stabilize a joint. When the CNS cannot respond appropriately, players may fall or they may sprain or tear ligaments. Thus, a loss of balance is a key to players playing well and staying healthy. Two recent studies examined the relationship between fatigue and balance in young athletes. The first shows the extent to which fatigue disrupts balance while the second suggests that carbohydrates may be a solution to maintaining balance during a match.