Eduardo is Fitness Coach at Empoli Primavera. He shared his experience on how he used gpexe to profile his U19 players and to monitor their performance, with a particular focus on neuro-muscular load.
Eduardo, in practice, how do you use these parameters?
As previously mentioned, together with the U19 staff we have decided to update the individual ASP profile every month in order to be as detailed as possible in assessing workloads. We then decided to take the average load played in the last 3 games as a reference.
Below you can see the team’s average values observed in the last 6 games:
Compared to the individual benchmark, we have set ourselves goals that we adapt according to the match schedule and the players’ condition. In very busy periods these goals decrease for all players (those who played and who didn’t). We often focus more on those who haven’t played the game, since they can spend more time working than recovering. In general, if we have a regular week available, made up of 5 workouts, we can achieve the following volumes of work:
This means that we are able to carry out about 2.5-3 times the load of the match in training as regards positive actions (concentric), while this proportion decreases to 1.5-2 times if it refers to negative actions (eccentric). Often, the choice of weekly goals is adapted according to the strength work we decide to carry out in the gym: if the strength session is more intense, we will tend to reduce the neuro-muscular load on the field and vice versa. I have to say that it is the first experience we have with this new approach and I do not exclude the possibility of adjusting my choices a little in the future.
Other things you noticed?
At the moment I’d like to better understand the different proportions I observe between positive and negative work in the match (more biased towards brakes) than what we propose in training. The explanation I gave myself is that training emphasises the positive phases because the focus of the action runs out at the end of actions where brakes and restarting are rarely required. This topic could be taken into consideration to change something in our future proposal… but I would like to gather more information to have clearer ideas. So let’s talk about this next year…
Can you tell us more about the distribution of tasks within your staff? And what are the and the relationships with the first team?
In the U19, the performance staff includes Diego Chiesi, who deals with RTP, and Sebastiano Manetti, who is mainly focused on monitoring (gpexe system operations, data collection and reporting). In the First Team, we relate to Rocco Perrotta and Fabio Trentin, with whom we have shared a working model to follow during this season. We are currently carrying out functional tests (endurance and strength) and monitoring players in the same way as in the First Team squad. There is a very operational collaboration between us all concerning the optimal management of those players who train alternately in the First Team and in the U19: both staff monitor workloads with the aim of avoiding any anomalous situation that escapes from mutual control.
Any remarkable differences between the loads that your players sustain when they train with you compared to when they are involved in the first team?
The profiles tell us that the differences are not significant. Thanks to the cooperation with the First Team staff, I can say that the workloads of the sessions are often very similar. The only – quite obvious – gap is the one due to the double training sessions which are scheduled for the First Team much more frequently than for the U19 squad.
The U19 – “Primavera” Championship has become very competitive after reorganisation. Any gap with the first teams is further reduced and the performance condition of those athletes in the orbit of the first team is already at a very similar level. Although the speed of the game and the technique are constantly increasing, fortunately, we are capable of reducing the differences with the first teams.
How do you relate to the coach in planning the work?
I am lucky: I have been given plenty of autonomy in my daily work and in planning so far. There is availability and trust, I have never perceived negativity or mistrust. We organise the session according to a shared load idea, guaranteeing priority satisfaction of the tactical objectives in the possession and non-possession phases. Fortunately, the emphasis on these aspects is much greater in the MD-1 and MD-2 sessions, when the high-intensity physical load tends to decrease. In this way, the above weekly goals are often achieved. The coach requests the physical reports of the sessions and matches, a sharing that we also like to carry on with the boys: I believe this is another fundamental part of the monitoring process.
UPDATE – two months later.
What did the previously collected and analysed data tell us? In the competition, we had observed a clear difference between the number of brakes and bursts, in favour of the former. Still, we could not find this difference in training, where the ratio brakes/bursts is practically 1 – see weekly total values in Table 2.
In training, however, we reached clearly higher values than the competition for both parameters. In particular, the training vs match ratio was about 3.13 for bursts and 2.09 for brakes.
Despite this, in the latest two months, we considered introducing a training proposal focused on increasing brakes to achieve a bursts/brakes ratio closer to the match (0.70).
How did we do that? We tried to work with stimuli even more similar to the match, both in terms of field sizes during drills and in the types of proposals. Tactical work was also carried out in the most situational way possible, in a match format. Furthermore, the work with the ball has been integrated with brakes and bursts without the ball. By doing so, we were able to increase the eccentric phases in the weekly total values (71.4 vs. 90.9), thus creating a greater proportion between positive and negative phases, more adequate in relation to what happens in the game.
Interview with Eduardo Pizzarelli, Fitness Coach at Empoli Calcio Primavera
Read here the first part of this interview.
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