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How to Adapt For External Factors - Charlotte Independence

I wanted to wait a few months before writing my first blog about how we’ve been using SoccerPulse with the Charlotte Independence, because when you are working with data and a new team, it’s important to make sure you understand the context for the data, as well as the players who are submitting the reports.

Now seemed like an appropriate time to give everyone a glimpse into how we’ve been using the app day to day, and the positive impact it has had on the team thus far.

As of this writing, we currently sit 5th in the table with 17 points from 10 games. We are 3 points out of 2nd with 2 games in hand on Charleston in 3rd, and FC Cincinnati in 2nd. We’ve won our last 3 games in a row and are looking to make it 4 this weekend against Ottawa on the road.

All good news, especially considering we are currently 2 players away from a fully healthy squad (knock on wood), both of which will train fully this upcoming week.

Using the data in the app, we’ve been able to implement some individual and team periodization to training, without having to change the tactical objectives of Coach Jeffries. We also have an idea of which players typically need more rest than others, and baselines for what players typically report as the intensity of training and the intensity of games.

We take all this into account when adjusting for sessions, to ensure players are fit but also fresh for the match on the weekend. We also make sure to take into account the external factors, which might impact players and our preparation.

We define external factors as circumstances which are beyond our control, but which will need to be accounted for, as they could have a negative impact on performances.

This includes:

  1. Training surface (grass or turf)

  2. Weather (especially humidity)

  3. Travel (from the prior game and the upcoming game)

  4. Sleep (caused by travel or late bus trips)

  5. Player Circumstances (playing time/return from injury)

These factors are extremely important, because they will dictate how long we can train for on any given day.

For example, last weekend we had our first road trip since April, a 5-hour bus ride to Richmond, and a flight to Ottawa on Friday. We also had some very intense rain each day, which forced us to train on turf. Given the training surface, travel, and sleep of the players, we knew that we’d need to shorten the session each day this week, to not only regain the freshness of the players, but also to limit the amount of fatigue they would pick up.

Although the sessions were shorter, players had the option to do extra work specific to their position at the end of training. This gave players the appropriate options if they believed they needed more rest or more work, depending on their personal circumstances.

Reducing the duration is one of the easiest ways to lower training load, because players always want to train at a high intensity, so it’s tough to tell a player not to train hard. It is also easier to implement, because you can plan the session as normal, but reduce the number of sets, or the total time of the games.

As the daily wellness reports come in to SoccerPulse, I can see that most players are feeling better today than they typically feel prior to the game, despite the external factors that we’ve been dealing with, which is a credit to the way the coaches planned the week.

A look at the average of all reports submitted over the week as players recover from the last game (far left) and prepare for the upcoming game (far right)

It’s an exciting time to be a part of the Charlotte Independence organization, and I’m very thankful for the freedom they’ve allowed me to share blogs like this. If you don’t have a USL Pro team to support yet, it’s not too late to jump on the bandwagon!

Tune in tonight to watch the team against Ottawa Fury at 7pm on ESPN+.

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