U.S. Soccer Development Academy Athletes Use Regeneration Throughout Season and Playoffs to Prepare For Finals Week
GREENSBORO, N.C. (June 29, 2009) – When a long regular season culminates in a competitive playoff tournament to qualify for a week of educational experiences and games against the best teams in the country, U.S. Soccer Development Academy Technical Advisors and club coaches must ensure they are encouraging and teaching players the best way to take care of their bodies. Not only do athletes learn about the importance of proper nutrition and hydration throughout the season, but players must also incorporate a regeneration process to allow tired muscles to recover properly.
Regeneration is the process of flushing toxins from the body and refueling it with proper nutrients to maximize performance after stress. It is especially important and beneficial to athletes when playing many games in a short amount of time.
“Once you go out and perform to the best of your ability, you need to recover and regenerate so that when you go back out for that next game, you’re in optimal condition,” said U.S. MNT assistant coach and Development Academy Technical Director John Hackworth. “This is a process that is used by the U.S. Men’s National Team, but in some aspect is even more important for Academy athletes because in our Showcase events the teams can end up playing three games in four days. When you play in two or more games in a close time frame, it is important to take care of your body in the correct way.”
Basic principles of regeneration include proper nutrition and hydration before and after matches, rest and recovery. However, it can also include activities such as pool workouts and massage therapy to help flush out toxins. By including regeneration as part of their program, Academy clubs show athletes how to care for their bodies and how to maximize their performance over the course of the season, as well as during events such as tournaments and Showcases.
During the Academy Playoffs, Academy Technical Advisors educated every club on the importance of regeneration, providing information on the importance of regeneration and suggesting possible regeneration exercises. With matches on Friday and Saturday, teams participating at the Academy Playoffs used Sunday as a regeneration day to prepare for their final match on Monday.
“Being from the Midwest, we had a lot more games at the end of our Academy schedule, so a regeneration day for us right now is doing not a whole lot with the ball, doing a little bit of pool regeneration work and then spending some time as a team,” said David Richardson, head coach of both the U-15/16 and U-17/18 Sockers FC teams. “We basically take exercises that we do outside of the pool and just do them in the water, so we’ll go through some jogging, we’ll go through some bicycle type movements where there’s no pressure of gravity. We’ll do some light, static stretching for 5-10 seconds at the most. We always do some fun things with them, too, as well.
Of the 64 teams that competed for 16 places at the 2008-09 Development Academy Finals Week, 14 clinched on the final match day. Carmel United SC U-17/18 and Real Colorado U-17/18 were the only two teams to secure a place at the Finals Week after the second day of matches, winning Group C and Group F, respectively.
The other group winners in the U-17/18 age group were Dallas Texans (Group A), FC Greater Boston (Group B), IMG Academies (Group D), CASL Chelsea FC Academy (Group E), PDA (Group G) and D.C. United (Group H).
In the U-15/16 age group, group winners and Academy Finals Week participants are Derby County Wolves (Group A), New York Red Bulls (Group B), Chicago Magic AS Monaco (Group C), FC Dallas (Group D), Cal Odyssey (Group E), Washington Premier (Group F), PDA (Group G) and Greensboro Youth Soccer (Group H).
Of the 16 teams participating in Finals Week, the majority of teams come from the Central and East Conference. The six teams from the Central Conference, include: Carmel United SC U-17/18 (Carmel, Ind.), Dallas Texans U-17/18 (Dallas, Texas), Real Colorado U-17/18 (Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Chicago Magic AS Monaco U-15/16 (Chicago, Ill.), Derby County Wolves U-15/16 (Livonia, Mich.), and FC Dallas U-15/16 (Frisco, Texas). The East Conference is represented by five teams: D.C. United U-17/18 (Washington, D.C.), FC Greater Boston U-17/18 (Waban, Mass.), PDA U-17/18 (Zarephath, N.J,), New York Red Bulls U-15/16 (Secaucus, N.J.) and PDA U-15/16 (Zarephath, N.J.). PDA will be the only Academy club with two teams attending Finals Week.
The eight group winners from each age group will travel to Los Angeles to partake in specialized educational programming for elite youth players as well as crown the Development Academy champion from each age group at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The final day of matches at the Academy Playoffs was also highlighted by a U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team 4-1 victory against the Carolina Dynamo with goals from Carlos Martinez, Sebastian Lletget and two from Stefan Jerome as preparations continue for the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria.