How important is the good preparation of motor skills for the season?
ŁUKASZ SUTKOWSKI: Football is a contact sport, which makes it injurious, and it is good motor preparation that allows to reduce the risk of injuries, mainly in people prone to injuries. At the moment, at Panthers, we are focusing on fine-tuning motor control, improving range of motion, general improvement, which is all what there is not much time for, during the game period. We do a thankless job that players hate but are thankful for during the season.
Have you started with tests? Research?
Typical motor tests - there was a 40-meter run, long jump, high jump, agility and bench press exercises. These are tests standardized in academic football in the USA , they allow to determine the stage of preparation of the players. As they've been out of football lately, the results aren't good, but thanks to them we can build the training volume and intensity and see how those results change. We test competitors approximately every one and a half months, after each major training mesocycle, then we try to individually select some parameters.
So the individualization of tasks is not the rule?
We have 60 players in the team, it is difficult to handle each of them, the more that a large group lives outside Wrocław and in many cases our cooperation is remote. We have a schedule that we follow, obviously by position - different positions on the filed have different motor characteristics that we require of players. The offensive linemen rely on maximum strength, isometric strength, and for example the receivers rely on agility and speed. We develop all of this in training, we select individual loads, also taking into account the history of injuries, and you must also remember that players react differently to different training stimuli.
So the players do not have to come to the gym of the Olympic Stadium - they can do this work on their own.
We are talking about people who work, have families, and football is their side activity. In such a moment as now, training in our gym is not obligatory. Many players attend the tarining, but if you want to do them individually, go ahead. There are six months left to the start of the new season - let's give the players a moment of rest, they finished the game just over a month ago. Anyway, they send us recordings of the workouts, thanks to which we can correct technical aspects. We only noted the fact that they started their preparations, we also monitor whether they are implementing the plan outlined by the club. If someone wants to prepare individually with their trainer - no problem, because cooperation "one-on-one" is a very good form of training. And our tests will show whether the preparations of individual players are going in the right direction.
The imports also started training?
We do not have signed players from Europe and the USA yet, we do not know exactly which one will be here for the next season. Overall, US players are always well prepared. Usually they come to us in May and June, and we monitor their work since February, when we enter into high loads.
How intensely are football players currently training?
Motor training is a complement to what is happening on the field, we choose workouts in the gym for such training. We are currently in the off-season, so we do not have any typical football training, the players exercise three or four times a week in the gym. Soon we will introduce field elements - not football, but motor skills, so that they adapt to running, which is an effort in itself. This phase - three workouts in the gym and one on the field - will last until March, then we will reduce the training volume. The players will work according to the recommendations of the new coach - two or three times a week typically for strength , and two or three times on the field. During the season, trainings will be lighter , at lower intensity, so as to increase the dynamics . The weight will be lighter, but we will also work on the power - then it will be important to make each move as quickly as possible.
You mentioned that after a period of non-training, the test results were not the best.
It is known that at some point you have to get off the peak of form . It's like hiking in the mountains, if you want to climb the next peak, you have to go down for a while. The players are not able to bear horrendously heavy loads. This is what the pause period is for. Currently, trainings are not hard, there is a lot of stretching, work on mobility, general issues that are strictly not related to football - on their basis we build a motor base that we will be able to develop in January, February, March and April - this is a crucial period for us, because then we build as much strength as possible, and the closer to the season, we will convert the whole thing to power, so that the players are as quick and dynamic as possible.
Do you use GPS?
We have access to them, but we use them rather later, before the season. Now we test the players from time to time, we use photocells, we control the loads in the gym, we measure the speed of movement.
Someone does not attend classes due to an injury?
Unfortunately yes, last season we had a lot of injuries that we were unable to counteract. We still have four or five unhealed players, after more severe injuries, such as cruciate ligament rupture or Achilles tendon rupture. They are working out, but therapeutic. We cooperate with the GO ON Clinic, which prepares those who are just starting their motor preparations.
The plan that you are currently implementing has changed significantly compared to the previous one?
It changes every year, because we learn something every year. The work of a motor trainer is a job like any other - if we do not develop, we stand still. Now we will work more on the accelerometer, we will study the speed of movements, which we did not do last season. Whenever possible, the club tries to retrofit the gym, thanks to which we have more and more training options. We also work with Hammer Tech, which produces equipment for us, and we serve it as a "training lab" - they send us devices that are not sold yet , we test them with loads greater than is usually the case in a gym.
Possible mistakes in the motor preparation contributed to the unsuccessful previous season of the European League of Football performed by the Panthers?
Before each new season, I wonder what I did wrong in the previous season. I already know that in the upcoming games we will put more emphasis on proprioception, feeling our own body, to make the players even more sensitive to what is happening on the field. We hope this will reduce the risk of certain injuries. What happened last season motivates us a lot. Usually, we give them much more time to recover after the last game. Football, however, is a specific sport - I compare this competition to a weekly MMA fight in a cage , beatings in the face, blows that take the whole body. A lot of these guys look like this at the finish. This time, due to the poor performance, we started much earlier at the players' request. The past season has shown that the stake is more and more even , and the elements related to the motor preparation play an increasingly important role. I see a change in the minds of the guys - they learn a lot, they know what to do, we don't have to look at their hands in the gym. In this respect, it is getting better every year. I hope this will translate into results and we will mix things up a bit in the upcoming games!
Arkadiusz Barski was the interviewer, the interview was published in Slowo Sportowe, No. 43/1478