With Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s 2014 training camp just over three weeks away, whitecapsfc.com caught up with head of sports medicine and science Rick Celebrini to talk about what players have been doing this offseason to get ready for 2014.
Q: Generally, what kind of advice or direction do you give to players heading into the offseason? Do you put together a plan for each player?
Celebrini: Every player has their own individualized plan based on the previous season, including amount of playing time, injuries, and so on. The plan will most certainly include a mental and physical break of different durations, depending on the age and status of the particular player.
Q: What sort of things would one find in these plans? Is there a soccer element, or are they mostly physio/fitness related?
Celebrini: There is an addressment of potential injury risk factors, as well as maintenance or improvements in strength, power, flexibility and aerobic and anaerobic conditioning (again depending on the player). Cross training and aerobic activities are encouraged, especially early in the program. As the next season draws near, there is an increased emphasis on soccer specific fitness and demands. Some guys will train with various teams to prepare. There may be a sports psych and nutrition plan for some players as well.
Q: How would a soccer player’s offseason workout plan differ from that of other athletes (say a hockey player) – if at all?
Celebrini: The physical demands of a soccer player are unique and therefore the training and “prehab” must reflect this. The injury risks are different for the sport and the individual so that is taken into account, as well as the emphasis on lower extremity strength, power, speed and agility. Also, the energy system demands are much different than say a hockey player.
Q: From your experience, how much can a player’s offseason training regimen influence his performance the following season?
Celebrini: This can be of great benefit. A great example is Russell Teibert last year. He started preparing for the next season as soon as the previous season was done and worked harder than he could all season (obviously not wanting to be in a fatigued state if called upon for first team selection). He was doing two sessions per day, took a decent break over Christmas and then ramped things up again prior to the start of camp. He came into camp in great shape and confident in his preparation.
Q: How important is it for players to get some rest and recovery time in all of this?
Celebrini: Crucial. Mental and physical. The MLS season is long and demanding so it is imperative that the players use this time to optimally rest and recover for the next season.