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The OPDL Spotlight Series - Sport Science

By OSA News, 07/04/16, 5:30PM EDT


The 2016 OPDL season is now in full swing with all teams having played a quarter of their games for the year. What does this mean from a sport science perspective? What does it mean in terms of physical preparation and testing for our athletes? As part of this week's OPDL Spotlight Series Matt Daher, the OSA’s OPDL Sport Science Consultant, tells us more. 

What does the fitness training schedule look like for OPDL athletes and why is it crucial to follow it?

We are now at a time where we have moved away from preparing OPDL athletes for the upcoming season to a time of maintenance of their physical abilities and continued prevention of injuries. The emphasis now should be on the microcycle (looking at the training cycles one week at a time), and monitoring loading and recovery. This is important as young athletes should not be overreaching or overtraining at a time when the primary focus is development. If we sacrifice the long term development of our athletes for the sake of short term goals, like winning games, they may be susceptible to overreaching and overtraining. These scenarios have the potential to result in short-term and/or long-term physiological, anatomical, and psychosocial symptoms and decrements in performance.

What is the importance of movement competency?

In the preseason, our OPDL athletes should have worked on movement competency, strength, and building an aerobic base sufficient to be match fit. More important for the younger U13 and U14 groups, movement competency will give them the foundation required to perform strength and power training as they develop into mature athletes. Coaching movement competency involves teaching athletes how to move their bodies in a manner that decreases their risk of injury and improves their mechanics, so that they can train more efficiently and optimally. Movement competency is crucial for the long term development of the athletes, and once established, they can then move onto loading that particular movement in order to improve performance and decrease injury risk. 

What is the difference between preseason, in-season and post season training?

Now that we are well into the season, the majority of the movement competency and strength training work should be complete, unless individual athletes require some maintenance work. The physical training should progress from the pre-season movement, strength and more aerobically weighted conditioning, to power, speed, and repeated sprinting ability. This ensures that the athletes’ bodies are being trained in a manner to meet the sport’s demands. From a physical perspective, soccer is an explosive sport requiring repeated power and speed movements at a high intensity. The physical training should be completed on-field, with injury prevention incorporated, and performed with a ball when possible.

What fitness testing will the future hold?

Coming up at the end of July, the player rubrics will be due, and along with them, the compiled fitness testing results. This should take place near the middle of the month and results submitted before the mid-season break. Having this data will give us a good idea of where our OPDL players across the league stand in terms of their physical performance, a couple months into the season. Going forward, we will have testing dates and data collection at different times throughout the season in order to determine the current standards, the best training approaches and the effect of the training plans on our athletes.

Matt Daher, R.Kin, BSc (Hons) | Ontario Soccer Association OPDL Sport Science Consultant

Matt Daher has had experience working with Ontario provincial teams, Canadian national players, and AS Roma and Liverpool during the Champions World Series 2004.

He was also on staff for the 2007 FIFA U20 Men’s World Cup, and the FIFA 2014 and 2018 World Cup qualifying games.

A graduate of York University with a specialized honours degree in kinesiology and exercise science, Matt sits on a number of committees with the College of Kinesiologists of Ontario where he helps in the development of policies for the field of exercise science.