2013 Sounders FC Sports Science Weekend – Overview


I was very fortunate to attend the 2013 Sounders FC Sports Science Weekend from Thursday, June 13, to Saturday, June 15, in Seattle, Washington.  This was the third year that Dave Tenney and his crew have put together this awesome show.

The weekend consisted of a series of presentations and discussions at the Starfire Soccer Complex in Tukwila, WA just outside of Seattle.

starfire panorama

starfire map

The presenters included host Dave Tenney, Sounders FC fitness coach, as well as the following coaches and trainers:

  • Bjorn Rekelhof – AFC Ajax fitness and recovery coach.
  • Gavin Benjafield – Head of Physical Performance at AFC Ajax.
  • Darcy Norman – Director, Performance Innovation Team for Athletes’ Performance, former FC Bayern Munich and Euro 2012 German National Team fitness and rehab coach.
  • Marcello Iaia – Researcher/Sports Scientist, University of Milan, former Manchester United assistant fitness coach.
  • Howard Gray – Assistant Strength & Speed Coach at Florida State University.
  • Joel Jamieson – Strength and conditioning coach for combat sports, founder of 8weeksout.com, former Director of Strength & conditioning for Pride FC and Dream FC.
  • Charlie Weingroff – Director of Sports Performance & Physical Therapy at CentraState Medical Center.
  • Ryan Alexander – PhD candidate in Sport Physiology and Sport Performance at East Tennessee State University.
  • ouMark McLaughlin – Owner, Performance Training Center (Portland, Oregon).

As you can see from this lineup, it was an impressive array of coaches and trainers operating at the very top of the elite sports ladder.  These guys not only “talk the talk”, but they regularly “walk the walk”.  What was great about each one of the presentations, in general, was hearing how the sports science was applied.  It would be great to hear about the latest research findings regarding sports training, monitoring, rehabilitation, etc., etc., but for those of us in the trenches, somewhat removed from the elite level, what we really yearn for is how to apply the research.  What works?  What doesn’t work?  How can this be modified to fit my particular setting or environment?  I am all about training optimization:  I want to train my team as efficiently and effectively as possible to maximize potential in terms of team and individual development, given my constraints of time, resources, and ability (players and my own).  I can’t do this without paying attention to the applicable sports science research (i.e. evidence-based coaching) but research is just that:  research.  Often it is conducted on a small group of players/athletes/subjects, in a limited setting, and achieves somewhat unclear results.  So the question becomes:  what research is applicable in my particular situation and how do I apply it?  I don’t have the time, money, expertise, or resources to conduct my own research specifically aimed at improving my team.  I need help.  And that is precisely where this seminar excelled.  The presenters are knowledgeable enough to understand the research, in some cases (see Marcello Iaia) even conducting research, but more importantly, they have also applied the findings to prepare, train, and monitor their elite group of athletes to achieve the highest level of play in the most challenging environment, professional sports.  Failure to understand and apply the research properly can spell disaster for their athletes and teams.  So they have to get it right.  The practical application of the research, i.e. “Where the rubber hits the road”, is that elusive quest for coaching and training Nirvana that, hopefully, we are all seeking.

This series of articles will be a report on several of the presentations, along with my thoughts, with particular attention paid to accessible applications, i.e. the takeaway messages that we can all use to improve our coaching and the development of our players and teams.  Even though all of the presentations were excellent and had a plethora of great information, I will report only on the presentations directly connected with soccer.

Before the seminar even began, the attendees were sent information about a Dropbox folder containing slides of all of the presentations and sports science research articles pertaining to the weekend seminar.  In all there were 10 research and blog articles delivered and 8 presentations (only Marcello Iaia’s presentation was omitted for proprietary reasons).

The following is the list of research articles and blog posts included in the Dropbox folder:

  • Rationale and resources for teaching the mathematical modeling of athletic training and performanceDavid C. Clarke and Philip F. Skiba, Advances in Physiology Education, 37:134-152, 2013.
  • Comparing the Physical Demands of Friendly Matches and Small-Sided Games in Semiprofessional Soccer PlayersDavid Casamichana, Julen Castellano, and Carlo Castagna, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(3)/837–843
  • Influence of Different Training Regimes on Physical and Physiological Demands During Samll-Sided Soccer Games: Continuous vs. Intermittent Format, David Casamichana, Julen Castellano, and Alexandre Dellal, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 27(3)/690–697
  • Monitoring Training in Elite Soccer Players: Systematic Bias between Running Speed and Metabolic Power DataP. Gaudino, F. M. Iaia, G. Alberti, A. J. Strudwick, G. Atkinson, W. Gregson, International Journal of Sports Medicine, 2013 Apr 2
  • Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment of the Overtraining Syndrome: Joint Consensus Statement of the European College of Sport Science and the American College of Sports MedicineMeeusen R, et al, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2013 Jan

This provided a perfect solution to the age-old question of what to read in the airport and during the flight.  Problem solved.  In addition, while downloading and printing all of these documents, I ran across some other that seemed relevant.





The reading definitely paid off because the research and concepts discussed in these articles were a theme running through the entire seminar.

The schedule for the weekend was as follows:



Thursday, June 13

Dave Tenney Intro & Creating the Player Monitoring Model – Can we accurately capture the fitness/fatigue cycle?
Bjorn Rekelhof Long-term planning and periodization in soccer performance

Friday, June 14

Charlie Weingroff Hip Extension As a Big Rock in the Global Football Training Program
Mark McLaughlin Omegawave; Assessing and Optimizing the Short and Long Term Training Goals of American High School Football Players
Ryan Alexander Effects of Training Loads in Critical Time Periods of Preparation Before Matches on Performance Variables
Gavin Benjafield Injury Incidence and Injury Patterns in Professional Football
Darcy Norman Practical Application of Speed Training in the Preparation Period of a Major Tournament – Experience with the DFB

Saturday, June 15

Howard Gray Sport Science in Collegiate Soccer
Marcello Iaia High Intensity Training in the Elite Soccer Players – From Physiology to Practice
Joel Jamieson Individualization of Recovery and Regeneration Methods

Over the next few days (weeks?) I will be presenting my notes from the seminar. Please check back regularly (or subscribe to the blog so you can be notified of updates).

First up is Dave Tenney and his presentation on Creating the Player Monitoring Model – Can we accurately capture the fitness/fatigue cycle?


One response to “2013 Sounders FC Sports Science Weekend – Overview

  1. Pingback: Coaching Matters: Around the Web June & July 2013 » Underground Athletics

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