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January 26, 2012 at 1:32 PM

A stop and chat with fitness coach Dave Tenney

tenney mug.jpgThe Sounders held their annual preseason endurance test, often known as the “beep test,” today at the VMAC. Fitness coach Dave Tenney talked to reporters about what he saw and what it means afterward. Here’s a transcript of that conversation:

* * *

(Any impressions from today’s fitness work?) “I was very happy. Every year we’re using this as a look at what our starting points are from a physical standpoint going into Arizona. Typically we do this three or four days before we go to Arizona and then it kind of drives our programming for Arizona. I haven’t looked exactly at all the numbers yet or done an analysis, but it appears that our team average is significantly better than it was last year. For a lot of guys, their starting points are a lot better than they were last year. And I think that it’s a testament, hopefully, to the guys and the voluntary workouts we were doing at the beginning of January. You could see it pays dividends from that. We want to start doing stuff with the ball. You look at other countries, they don’t do anything with the ball the first two weeks. It’s all running. I was thinking about that. Really, those voluntary workouts, for the most part, those end up being the two weeks without the ball that we get to skip. It helps Sigi do everything technically and tactically a lot earlier in the program.”

(On what it determines physically…) “A lot of it’s position-specific. I think if you’re a midfielder, that’s a very, very important test for you, especially your ability to resist fatigue. Central defenders and strikers, statistically they’re not doing as much running, maybe it’s not as close of a correlation. But definitely we see there’s a pretty close correlation between risk of injury and fatigue and kind of this starting point beginning of preseason.”

(Does this also measure willingness to endure pain?) “Yeah, I think that’s a thing, too. Scoring in the 89th minute or coming back in the 89th minute, there’s a physical component, just as much as there’s a mental component. Our game in Kansas City last year, where we scored two goals in the 90th minute and played in the heat — OK, there’s a physical aspect — but there’s a pretty big mental aspect of that. Obviously, that test is a test of mental fortitude as much as physical fortitude.”

(How much does this help with preparing for two-game weeks?) “Yeah, it’s interesting. Especially on this test today … the guys that score well, their recoveries tend to be much, much better. Use Alonso as an example. I think he did a minute or two better today than he did last year. If you see over the course from 2009-2012, his evolution as an athlete, you can see the score he got today is very reflective of his durability from last season. There’s definitely a clear correlation.”

(So you’ll look over these numbers and determine who needs extra work in Arizona?) “It’s extra sessions. It’s extra training stimulus and some exercises at the end of training, for guys who need that one last bump. We have an offseason program to do and hopefully you do it in offseason, if we have to put some of those bits in in Arizona then that’s what we have to do, as well. Overall, with 95-percent I’m pretty comfortable we’re where we need to be right now.”

(And those five-percent aren’t beyond salvaging in six weeks?) “No, no. That’s why you need to identify early and that’s what makes Arizona next week so important, is that the closer you get to CONCACAF, the less you can try to get big gains in fitness. You’re going to get the big gains in fitness by working hard in the next two weeks and kind of unloading closer to CONCACAF.”

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