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SPARQ Performance Director Paul Winsper on the Next Steps in Player Development

During the final day of the Player Development Summit, SPARQ displayed the latest methods in functional performance training, a practice critical to maximizing athletic potential in youth soccer players. SPARQ, Nike’s performance division and U.S. Soccer’s partner in performance and assessment, revealed findings from SPARQ Testing of Development Academy and U.S. Youth National Team players and SPARQ Performance Director Paul Winsper outlined SPARQ’s training philosophy and methodology to attendees at the summit. caught up with Winsper after his presentation on Thursday. What are the overall goals for SPARQ?
Paul Winsper: "SPARQ is Nike's performance division. We are the voice of performance for a huge company, Nike, that is really about innovation. We are trying to innovate performance. Our main mission is to partner with U.S. Soccer and make sure everything they do is cutting edge in terms of science and performance." What has SPARQ done to help improve the U.S. National Teams?
PW: "There are two parts of (how SPARQ has done) that. First, we've helped with the Development Academy. Our model at NIKE and SPARQ is we assess our athletes, analyze the data and then put the improvement model in place. The first part with the Development Academy to date is that assessment piece. We've just finished the analysis and we're just starting to implement the improvement piece. We've put together over 13,000 athletic records for U.S. Soccer and for the Development Academy, which is the biggest on the planet. Our second step is with the National Teams. We have SPARQ representatives on staff with the U.S. U-20 Men and Women and with the U-18s a full-time guy, Robbie Elliot. He's in camp with them and he helps with nutrition, with training, with the planning the training, and with regeneration. He's working on what Nike and SPARQ are doing and it manifests itself in those training camps." This summit is about the next steps in player development. How does SPARQ fit in to that process?
PW: "We can obviously help. We have a brain trust and you see the reach that a company like Nike has in terms of coaches and athletes. We're tapping into all of those resources to make sure what we say from a performance perspective is beyond reproach and the best it can possibly be. We can be a huge help to U.S. Soccer whether it's preparing the National Teams for the next phase of their careers, preparing teams in camp to play in for a World Cup cycle, or to just informing the Development Academy of the process of how to develop better athletes to play soccer."