US SoccerUS Soccer

U.S. Soccer Partners With Nike and SPARQ Training to Provide Training Expertise For Youth Players

CHICAGO (April 2, 2008) — As part of its commitment to provide elite youth players with the best possible environment and tools for training and development, U.S. Soccer is partnering with Nike and SPARQ to enhance training for players on the men’s and women’s Youth National Teams and all clubs in the Development Academy. All athletes from the Youth National Teams and the Development Academy will be tested this spring and each athlete’s test results and subsequent SPARQ Soccer Rating will serve as the foundation for a comprehensive individual program to focus training and track progress and improvement over time.

  What is the Sparq Soccer Rating?
The SPARQ Soccer Rating is a proprietary, standardized method for evaluating match-relevant athletic and functional ability. It is a single number derived from performances on four soccer-specific physical tests of speed, power, agility and endurance capacity. The results serve as the foundation for individualized training programs.

“Partnering with Nike and SPARQ is another step in providing the absolute best atmosphere to improve the development environment for the elite soccer players in our national teams and in the Academy,” said U.S. Soccer Development Academy Director and Men’s National Team assistant coach John Hackworth. “We are excited about SPARQ training because it is another tool players can use to achieve their highest soccer potential.”

SPARQ stands for speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness, and is a training resource that uses a standardized method of testing to provide athletes with an assessment and training tools to help them improve. The standardized testing environment enables players to measure themselves against their peers and international caliber soccer players.

  Nike Athletes Using SPARQ
Landon Donovan (MLS)
Kevin Durant (NBA)
Steve Nash (NBA)
Adrian Peterson (NFL)
Lindsay Tarpley (U.S. Women)
LaDanian Tomlinson (NFL)
Hope Solo (U.S. Women)
Abby Wambach (U.S. Women)
SPARQ trainers will test athletes at their local club and at the Development Academy Spring Showcase from May 23 to 26 in Rockford, Ill. Once tested, players receive an individualized program designed to provide meaningful training by addressing personalized areas of weakness and focus on areas of strength. The physical training element is focused on developing soccer athleticism, which is a major component of successful professional clubs’ programs, along with tactical and technical training.

Launched in the fall 2007 after a comprehensive review of the player development systems in the U.S. and across the world, the Development Academy will provide the best possible opportunity for players to develop. Teams in the Academy are required to train a minimum of three times a week, eliminating the growing trend of playing excessive games in lieu of consistent training patterns, while also playing relevant weekly matches at a high level against other teams in the program.

More than 3,000 players are part of the Development Academy, which includes clubs with teams in each of the two Academy age groups: Under-15/16 and U-17/18. The clubs are divided into eight conferences (based on geographic proximity), with each team playing 30 matches during the eight-month season. The winner of each conference will participate in the Academy Finals Week at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., in July.


Soccer Attribute Test Measures Match Relevance
Speed 20-Meter Sprint Linear Acceleration and Speed (High-intensity Running Breakaway speed, recovering from loss of possession
Power Vertical Jump Lower-Body Explosive Power Head balls, first step explosiveness, creating space
Agility Arrowhead Agility Agility, Change of Direction, Postural Control, Speed Multi-directional nature of game means agility may be most important factor in physical profile
Endurance Capacity Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test, Level 2 Endurance/Recovery Capacity Ability to repeat and recover from high-intensity exercise