In this article, Markus Hödl, Sports Scientist and Athletic Trainer at Hertha BSC, talks about optimizing training for young soccer players with Firstbeat Sports.
Hödl was brought into the Hertha setup because of his experience and expertise in training and recovery management and performance monitoring. From the beginning, he has been the direct contact between the academy and the first team. The Hertha first team has been relying on support from Firstbeat Sports features for over 6 years. In year 2019 internal load monitoring was expanded to include the academy. Coaches working with the senior and junior teams access Firstbeat’s performance monitoring data through an API integration with the SAP sports team management software.
Challenges of working with younger players
Working with the next generation brings its own special challenges. “In soccer, everyone would like to see special types of players and characters. These are, of course, sometimes very ‘creative’ in daily training,” says Hödl with a wink.
“Besides that, it is a unique situation overall anyway. The young players often must overcome their personal pain threshold. And even if the boys’ self-motivation to become professional players is very strong, a coach must also act as a motivator and be able to reach the players emotionally.”
Part of being an academy player is handling an extensive workload. “We train up to eight times a week, many are still going to school, some have additional specific training units and may still be on a national team course”, Hödl explains. “The players are often permanently working to their max and it is remarkable what the guys have to deliver and endure.”
On the other hand, it is also important to show sensitivity in dealing with the young people. “That sometimes means giving the freedom for individual play and movement, where then only the fun and enjoyment of the game are in the foreground,” reveals Hödl. “It goes without saying that this is part of learning and personal development. The pressure that has built up must also be released occasionally.”
Mediation of efficient and effective training
Based on these basic pillars, it is also important to teach the budding professionals how to train efficiently and effectively. Correct and well-timed recovery is essential.
“This is often a big challenge because young, hungry players in particular tend to do too much and forget about recovery,” says Hödl.
“Good recovery is a recurring theme for us. This means objective communication with every player, and a close eye on training, is essential. For me, this is where the Firstbeat Sports System is extremely important and supportive because it enables me to immediately and easily recognize, point out, and go beyond stress limits in a controlled manner – or even not to exceed them. The key phrase being ‘injury prevention’,”
The Training Effect metric is particularly useful here because the players can easily follow it themselves and it can be used to benchmark training limits in real time.
“The guys know what the target is in training and we can communicate this very easily during a session. In this regard, I am in constant contact with head coach Michael Hartmann, who can then react in a target-oriented manner based on well-founded data,” continues Hödl.
“In various forms of play, however, I look more at Firstbeat’s TRIMP/min data because I can see exactly whether we get players into the same intensity zone that they achieve in the game – that’s between 3.6 and 4.3. This is really an essential factor for us in training. My job is to prepare the players for match day in the preceding training week. In this regard, my personal driving force is the undisputed thesis ‘You can only control what you can measure’,” says the sports scientist.
Using Firstbeat Sports remotely
“Firstbeat Sports provides the perfect option for remote monitoring, with the Firstbeat Sports app and Sensor,” Hödl explains. “In this way, we can seamlessly record the data and incorporate it into the individual or holistic training plan. That also helps us when players are attending DFB courses or with individual support for our top talent.
“Although we gratefully receive load data from the DFB, we can work even more efficiently with the usual data directly in the cloud and react optimally to the load from the national team courses.”
As the person responsible for performance management, Hödl relies on the innovative Firstbeat Sports metric Movement Intensity alongside a popular GPS monitoring solution to track external load. “Tracking Movement Intensity provides us with objective values and helps us clearly define a realistic time of returning to work. In addition, this data can be easily explained to the player and no complex and time-consuming performance diagnostic procedures have to be carried out.”
Hödl is excited to see what functions and information will come from this combination of internal and external load data from Firstbeat in the future. The first step has been taken with the introduction of Movement Load and the Movement Intensity.
Images: Hertha BSC, City-Press
You might also be interested in
Bringing Focus and Mobility to Coaching Firstbeat Sports, the provider of the most comprehensive internal training load analyses in team sports monitoring, is today launching Firstbeat Sports Sensor and Live app*. The next generation solution…
FC Porto has taken their relationship with Firstbeat Sports to the next level for the 2020-21 season by introducing the Firstbeat Sports app and Sensor to their athlete monitoring setup….
The Eintracht Frankfurt Strength and Conditioning coach discusses the changes to training and procedure caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, keeping players engaged, and how he acclimatizes new signings to ‘Bundesliga fitness’.