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May 22, 2012 at 3:02 PM

A stop and chat with Sounders FC fitness coach Dave Tenney

tenney mug.jpgThe Sounders will play eight games in May, and seven of those will have been played on short rest. I figured it’d be a good time to chat with the team’s fitness coach, Dave Tenney, about player recovery during the grueling stretch.

Here is the transcript of that interview:

* * *

(How do you approach these quick turnarounds when you have two or three days of rest?) “I think what we’ve found actually is there’s a big difference between three days’ rest and two days’ rest. When you go Saturday to Wednesday, you can bring guys back and, OK, there are a couple guys that we have to identify if they need more recovery. But for the most part, I think Saturday to Wednesday is enough to get guys rest. Now when it’s Wednesday to Saturday, just on two days’ rest, that’s where you really have to see who’s recovering and who’s not recovering. I think we separate those into two different categories.”

(You guys gather a lot of points of data with sports science, what are some of the key figures that stand out when you’re trying to determine who can handle a quick turnaround?) “We’ll use the Omegawave system — and I can talk about all the science you’d want — to just basically look at their overall state of recovery. Is this guy still stressed? Basically what we’re trying to determine after a game is their stress response to the game. How intense was that guy’s game? How many minutes did that guy play? A lot of the times we’ll find out that if a guy only played 60 minutes, he can come back really fast — it’s not really an issue. But if it’s 90 minutes, what were those 90 like? Really aerobic guys, if they do the right things postgame, you can get them back. Now it’s just measuring those other guys. I think it’s age, it’s aerobic ability, it’s previous injury — you’re looking at all those different data points to see who’s most likely to be in good shape for the next game.”

(How do flights come into play when you’re dealing with recovery compared to, say, if every game was at home?) “Clearly, once you’re going over three hours, once you’re going over more time zones, then there’s a bigger impact. Then you’re looking at the surface: Was it turf versus grass? We play on turf, and it’s very good turf — and it’s probably easier on our bodies than most of the other turfs right now — but there’s still a little bit of an increased recovery time because it is on turf, as well. But having said that, I don’t really want to play on grass in D.C. and then fly six hours and play the next day in Seattle.”

(We always hear about guys getting regeneration training days or “regen” days in the first days back after games. What are you looking to do with those?) “You’re trying to kick start the recovery process. What can we do to influence the recovery and accelerate the recovery as fast as possible? So with the “regen” or regeneration days, that’s what that is. How fast can we accelerate the recovery process? So we’re doing assessments, we’re trying to accelerate the process and also, because of these spells you really can’t lift weights, so you’re doing a little bit of strength stuff, which will also promote some recovery, too. So it’s really all those things together.”

(Is it mainly pretty light? Like stretching and stuff?) “No, it’s biking. It’s mobility and stability work. It’s some light strength work. There are corrective exercises for some of the muscle imbalance issues that guys have, and that’s the best time I think to do those things, too. That’s the other thing. With all the flights, certain guys get tight in certain areas, so that’s the time you address those things also.”

(How does a “regen” day compare to an off day in terms of recovery?) “I think it’s important that you can have both. I think the body will naturally recover, so I think in a perfect world you do the recovery day the first day and on the second day you take it totally off. That’s the perfect world. When you don’t have that totally open day, then anything that you can do to stimulate that recovery and speed up the process I think is better than doing nothing. But at the same time, you’re talking about both the physical and the mental side of things. Guys need days where they don’t come in at all, too. So there’s physical recovery and there’s mental recovery. A day off is sometimes what players need for mental recovery. We’ll do that too at times. If we decide they’ve been with us for a while, we’ve been on the road or been together, we may opt to do a total day off, and that’s when we’re really trying to prioritize the mental recovery.”

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