For many of the U.S. players on the upcoming training camp roster, this has been a rare week of down time between duty for club and country. Many of the leagues in Europe are already shuddered for the season, and camp kicks off May 26 in Cleveland. So does down time also mean off time?
With the philosophy of reaching peak performance by the time the World Cup Qualifier against Jamaica rolls around June 7 in Kingston, U.S. MNT performance fitness coach Masa Sakihana designed specialized programs for players based on their individual circumstance.
“The goal is to help them recover from the season and shift to building towards the qualifiers,” said Sakihana. “Some have had long seasons where they played consistently, and others are coming off injuries and need a little extra fitness or physical work. We want them to get rest, but also keep them going to a degree so the work can begin straight away in Cleveland.”
Not all situations are the same. DaMarcus Beasley, who finished his season with Puebla in the first week in May, has been training with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Stuart Holden has been back at work with his former teammates at the Houston Dynamo. Others - like Geoff Cameron, Sacha Kljestan and Michael Parkhurst - has their seasons wrap up last weekend and are going it on their own.
“Each player had been sent a three-day program which includes fitness and core exercises,” Sakihana said. “For the players on their own, the first day involves recovery runs. Day two is medium intensity, with short to longer high speed runs, and the third day is a little more intense as we try to keep stimulating their cardiopulmonary and nervous systems. For the guys training with teams, they can pick and choose what they need based on the workload of the training sessions they are in.”
The most important element in the process is communication. Each player has his own needs and knows his body best.
“I’ve been in constant contact with the guys to know exactly how they are feeling and where their needs lie,” Sakihana said. “We make adjustments as we need, always keeping in mind that we want them peaking at the right time.”