Blog

13 June 2:17 pm

Philadelphia Union and The Philadelphia Union Foundation will hold their fourth annual River Cup on September 6 at 11:30 a.m., the club announced today.  The one of a kind event features the Union front office and technical staff against the Union supporters group, the Sons of Ben, in a spirited match on the pitch at PPL Park. However, this year the fun doesn’t stop when the game ends.  Guests are invited to stay and check out the inaugural “Delaware River Craft Brewfest” that will be held on Toyota Plaza as well as cheer on Philadelphia Union as they take on Toronto FC live from Canada on the video board inside PPL Park.  

Combination River Cup and Brewfest tickets, as well as individual River Cup tickets, will be available for purchase via PhiladelphiaUnion.com  or at the PPL Park Box Office.  All proceeds from River Cup will benefit The Philadelphia Union Foundation.

“We are about tradition at Philadelphia Union and The Philadelphia Union Foundation,” said Rick Jacobs, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Union Foundation.  “That’s why we are so excited to continue the tradition of our River Cup, now in our fourth year. There’s no better way to raise money for our Foundation Building Blocks than partnering with Sons of Ben, the most committed and loyal supporters group in all of MLS.”

The Delaware River Craft Brewfest includes live music and entertainment, gourmet food options, and a variety of vendors, including over 100 breweries. The event will feature a sampling of the best crafts, imports and ciders from the United States and around the world. Samples of limited-release beers such as Goose Island Bourbon County and Scratch Series from Troegs will also be available.  Breweries on site include Victory, Troegs, Anchor, Rogue, Full Sail, Evolution, Starr Hill, Long Trail, Goose Island, Old Dominion, Lancaster and Magic Hat.

"The Sons of Ben are again excited to participate in the River Cup with the Philadelphia Union Foundation,” said Sons of Ben President Kenny Hanson.  “We are just as equally excited to be a part of raising money for such a great cause, the Philadelphia Union Foundation."

Tickets starting at $35 are available through PhiladelphiaUnion.com , by phone at 1-800-298-4200 or in person at the PPL Park box office. Designated Driver Tickets are available at $10. All ticket purchasers must be 21 or older to attend and must present a valid photo ID at the gate. Ticket purchasers during the first week of the on-sale will receive a free commemorative limited edition beer glass.

VIP Session tickets will kick off the festival from 2:00–3:00 p.m. with a special firkin tapping, VIP Parking, and the ability to talk to brewers and taste exclusive beers that will not be served in the general session. General Session will run from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.  Both VIP and general session tickets will include a souvenir tasting glass.

 

03 June 12:09 pm

Summer is finally upon us and people have started to head to the shore for some much needed rest and relaxation.  If you are someone who exercises on a regular basis it may seem like your training will have to take a back seat for the time that you are at the beach.  I personally love to exercise at the beach.  If you want to mix up your training and incorporate some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) into your routine you have come to the right place. The beach in my opinion is one of the best places to train.

Before we get started, let my briefly explain what I am talking about when we talk about HIIT. For years athletes and weekend warrior have been incorporating HIIT into their routines. Here is just one example: If you played high school football, I am sure that you ran hill sprints.  Well, this is a form of HIIT training. This type of training has become very popular over the past few years but don’t let people fool you, this training is nothing new. What is new is that people are now starting to realize some of the cardiac and skeletal benefits as well as adaptations that can happen when someone implements a safe and progressive HIIT program.

HIIT training is basically short, intense training intervals where your body works at a very high intensity for a specific time and then allows for adequate recovery period.  After a certain time you then repeat the exercise for a certain number of sets and repetitions.

So why is HIIT training beneficial for people instead of long slow training? Here are a few key points that I learned from reading Ben Greenfields book "Beyond Training":

  • Helps to optimize your heart’s capacity to send blood to your muscles.
  • Helps you to go harder and longer in your endurance events when you implement a safe protocol.
  • You can increase your metabolic efficiency and improve your fat burning qualities in less time than you can with long aerobic sessions.

HIIT training is just one form of training. A key point to ask yourself is what are your goals? If you are planning to do triathlons/longer running races than you will still need to incorporate long aerobic sessions into your training (FYI, there are benefits as well to aerobic training). If your goal is simply fat loss than implementing HIIT training into your routine a couple times per week may increase your benefits.

 
  • When I recommend HIIT training I always recommend the following:
  • Wear a heart rate monitor. The interval session should be based off of your recovery. If your heart rate gets to 180 bpm (beats per minute) wait until your heart rate comes back down to 120-130 bpm before you repeat the cycle. I use a Polar heart rate monitor for my training.
  • If you are beginner ALWAYS allow for added recovery. If you work hard for 20 seconds REST for as long as it takes for you to be able to catch your breath and feel comfortable. Going to hard early on in your training is not the goal. The goals are consistency and results over time.
  • Allow 72 hours between training sessions. The days in between are a great time to incorporate some strength training as well as longer aerobic sessions to increase blood flow and improve cardiac function.
  • If you are an advanced athlete, I still recommend wearing a heart rate monitor.
  • Finally the goal is NOT to get your heart rate as HIGH as possible but rather work to a point where it may be tough to have a conversation and then back off. Be smart and as always LISTEN to your body.

Here are five ways you can HIIT the beach this summer.

Please note before you ever start a HIIT program make sure that you have medical clearance and then you ALWAYS warm up properly. Use your heart rate monitor (120-130 bpm) or the talk test to determine your recovery time. Talk test is when you can have a conversation with someone before going again.

Workout No. 1: Deep sand shuttle runs

  • Set up 2 cones 25-50 yards apart
  • Run from one cone to the next approximately 80-90% effort.  Depending on your fitness level you can run for 25-100 yds. Rest and repeat. 
  • Sets: 8-12 rounds depending on your fitness levels
  • You can run barefoot or with shoes. If you have never run barefoot I would recommend starting with shoes.

Workout No. 2: Kettlebell deadlifts and shuttle runs

  • Grab a kettlebell that you can safely deadlift. If you do not know how to deadlift and hinge than work with a coach who can teach you the proper way to deadlift.
  • Set up two (2) cones 25-50 yds. apart
  • Work set:  Five (5) deadlifts + shuttle run. Rest and repeat
  • Sets: 6-10 rounds depending on your fitness levels

Note: if you are experienced with kettlebells you can substitute swings for deadlifts (both are great exercises when done properly).

Workout No. 3: Body weight squats + Pushups + Striders

  • Set up two (2) cones 25 yards apart.
  • Work set: 10 squats + 5-10 pushups (you can do kneeling pushups if you are unable to do regular pushups) + 25 yd. run. Walk back to the start and repeat when you feel recovered
  • Sets: 6-12

Workout No. 4: Medicine ball routine

Grab a medicine ball that weighs 4-10 lbs. Also, everyone should have a medicine ball for training. It’s one of the best tools you can use.

Work Set:

  • Five (5) squats with medicine ball
  • 10 ax chops with the medicine ball (five right/five left). The ball comes diagonally across your body.
  • One (1) medicine ball chest throw (two hands and throw as far as possible)
  • One (1) run for 10-25 yds.
  • Walk back to the start
  • Sets 6-12 rounds

Workout No. 5: Band training on the beach

This is one of the best ways to train on the beach. If you don’t have bands click this link to purchase. https://rbt.infusionsoft.com/go/bd/kevinm/

Attached 1-2 bands to a lifeguard stand (Black or purple bands are great to start with)

Work Set:

  • Eight (8) chest rows (2 hands into your chest)
  • Eight (8) chest presses (hands shoulder width apart as you press out)
  • Five (5) lateral squats per side (step in the band and step right 5x and then left 5x)
  • 20 yd. bear crawl (butt down and back flat; go slow and breathe as you do this)
  • Walk back to the start
  • Sets 5-8 rounds

These are just five examples of how you can HIIT the beach. As always, train smart, monitor your performance and have fun. Good luck!

Follow Union fitness coach Kevin Miller on Twitter: @kmillertraining and on Instagram: kevinmillertraining. Also, Miller is a featured panelist on Philly.com's Sports Doc blog: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sportsdoc). For best practices along with additional health and fitness tips, check out: Philly.com/Health

22 May 3:20 pm

Life wasn’t always easy for Raymon Gaddis and Andre Blake. 

Professional soccer has always been a dream but getting here was half the battle.

Gaddis and Blake were born worlds apart, one hails from a small town in Jamaica while the other calls the American Midwest home.  From the outside these may seem like opposite ends of the residential spectrum but dreams manifest themselves no matter the circumstances. But for these two being a professional soccer player was the only occupation they believed in.

As both players find themselves productive members of an American professional soccer team it would be understandable for them to think their jobs were done but this could not be further from the truth.

This sense of responsibility led both players to the Boys and Girls Club of Delaware on an overcast Wednesday evening to share their stories with a group of young Wilmington, Delaware children whose circumstances bear a striking resemblance to the player’s upbringing.

“Everyday that I play for the Philadelphia Union I don’t take it for granted and I feel a sense of responsibility to the community because I made it out of my circumstances,” Gaddis said during a recent interview

Most of the children in the crowd were members of Mike’s TEAM a mentoring program where volunteers from the surrounding area come once a week for an hour session where the volunteer helps a child with homework, academic practices, and life-skills. Many of the children come from low-income families and Mike’s TEAM provides them with a positive environment where they can focus on achieving their goals.

The organization has a three-fold mission statement that promotes the self-worth of youth, enables youths to make positive life choices, and finally strives to improve their lives, and communities.

A place like this oozes positivity, but reinforcement from those that have lived that life is what can make all the difference for these aspiring young minds.

Enter Raymon Gaddis and Andre Blake. 

When Gaddis and Blake arrived at the event many of the children had a vague idea of who the Philadelphia Union were and what the club stands for. Like most young people the minute they heard professional athlete their ears perked up and they became fully invested in what the players had to say.

Andre Blake and the kids of the Wilmington Boys & Girls Club share a laugh during a meet and greet Wednesday

“To see successful, professional athletes and hear stories about the adversity they encountered as young people was very powerful for the Club’s youth.  It was moving to see the kids understand that these players faced challenges similar to their own,” said Mike’s TEAM Executive Director Megan Kneisl-Faulkner.

Looking around the at the young, impressionable faces, many sat wide-eyed listening to the two players speak, for the kids it was a moment they won’t soon forget, but the same goes for both players.

“I feel like I can relate so much to these kids, and I hope that my message can stick with them whenever they are going through tough times or facing adversity. They can think back to today and what I have gone through to get here,” said Blake.

The key word from the entire day was adversity, and not simply how to deal with it, but how to overcome it. Both Ray and Andre used the word extensively in their discussions with the kids, because they understand the importance of succeeding through the hard times.

For them success isn’t necessarily all about becoming a professional athlete, it’s also about becoming a good person. Both players made sure to remind the kids that while it may have been their dream to be professional athletes, it’s not only about what you want to be, but the journey you take to get there.

The players stressed that this journey is going to be full of adversity, and sacrifices are going to have to be made. Ray described keeping his “eye on the prize” while some of his closest friends were making the wrong choices he had to remain stalwart in his mission.

Both players admitted it can be hard because often what others are doing around you is more “fun” then extra time in the weight room or a weekend study session, but these are what make you successful.

Success isn’t measured by the car you drive or the house you live in, true success is defined by the person you are, both players know that events like this are where they can truly articulate this message, and why they are so inclined to come to places like the Boys and Girls Club.

Ray and Andre were once the kids they spoke to, they grew up facing challenges on a daily basis that required them to make tough choices, but the right choices.

“My senior year of high school a group of guys that I hung with decided to rob a store, I told them it wasn’t right, and I literally walked the other way,” Gaddis recalled. “A couple of them got caught and I was grateful I chose to turn the other way. That’s a prime example of choices, and I always had ambitions of doing more.”

This type of experience has a profound impact on a human being, you look back in life and value the right choices you made because they are what make you into the person you are today. It’s also experiences like this that make Ray and Andre want to give back to the community.

They have seen people close to them make the wrong choices and let adversity define their lives.
It’s the mission of both players to communicate to all young people they come in contact with how to take that adversity and use it as motivation to do well in life.

A significant California trip where points are vital and a recent Jamaican national team call-up remain the focus of both players but these professional responsibilities don’t take away from the profounder parts of the job description.

“These guys are great! I think the Union is my new favorite team,” said Jaseem, a young Mike’s TEAM participant.

The children of the Boys and Girls Club of Delaware and Mike’s TEAM are the real teammates on this day.

- Written by Philadelphia Union digital media intern Doug Ammon

15 May 4:42 pm

Last Saturday, the Philadelphia Union honored the family of tri-state soccer legend in Stan Koziol.

Koziol, affectionately known as “Stas” or “Stosh,” passed after a battle with leukemia.

He was 48.

He is survived by his wife Margret and his two children Nicole and Matthew.

Before the match against D.C. United, the Philadelphia Union Foundation presented a check to the Koziol family in the amount of $3,500. However, as a result of our fans and constituents, the Foundation raised an additional $1,500 and reissued a $5,000 check to the family.

A native of Clifton, N.J., Koziol attended Loyola (Md.) University where he was a two-time All American and still holds the program record for assists. Following college, he turned professional where he enjoyed an eight-year career playing in the old American Professional Soccer League (APSL) for the Maryland Bays (1988) and the Boston Bolts (1989-90). He played internationally for the Puerto Rican national team during qualifying for the 1994 FIFA World Cup and had a fantastic indoor career, playing for the Baltimore Blast (1989-90), Hershey Impact (1991-92) and Canton Invaders (1992-93).

Through the many stops of his illustrious career, Koziol made many friends along the way. Philadelphia Union CEO and managing partner Nick Sakiewicz considered Koziol one of his dearest – family even.

“Stas was like family and a dear friend whose tenacity on the soccer pitch followed him off the pitch and throughout his life,” Sakiewicz said.  “It has been an honor to compete against him, play with him and, most importantly, to have known him for most of our lives starting with growing up on the streets of northern New Jersey playing soccer. Stas touched so many lives. We will all miss him immensely.”

On behalf of the Philadelphia Union Foundation and the entire Philadelphia Union family, we’d like to thank all those that contributed to support the family of our fallen friend. 

15 April 4:48 pm

A helping hand is sometimes all that is needed.

On Thursday April 10, humanitarians from all over the Philadelphia sports landscape and beyond convened for the first ever Eagles Care Summit.

Representatives from the Philadelphia Union, Eagles, Sixers, Flyers, and over 45 non-profit organizations from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware came together at the Eagles training facility -- the NovaCare Complex, to share best practices used to strengthen community relationships.  

Widely considered as a leading provider for the Chester community, the Philadelphia Union had representatives speaking throughout the Care Summit, including Executive Director of the Philadelphia Union Foundation Rick Jacobs and the Union's Director of Communications Aimee Cicero.

“There were opportunities for us and the other professional sports teams to talk about our current work in the community through the Foundation,” said Jacobs. “We were able to listen in on a bunch of 501 (c) (3) and view a presentation on how to build your 501 (c) (3) portfolio. I was really impressed.”

“We subscribe to a belief that there is no offseason to good citizenship,” said Philadelphia Eagles President Don Smolenski. Although there has been noticeable progress made within the surrounding communities, there also is more work to be done. 

  • To watch a video recap of the Eagles Care Summit, click here.

Philadelphia Eagles Community Relations Director Julie Hirshey added:

“The inspiration for the day was absolutely collaboration. It is no secret that working together by sharing knowledge and experiences, especially in the Delaware Valley region, will produce more of an everlasting impact on the community.

The majority of the Summit breakout sessions featured informative topics including fundraising, social media, board development, special events, marketing, ticket sales, player appearances and donation requests.

“The fact that the Eagles were able to collect two really significant groups that we connect to was a huge success,” said Jacobs.

“One group is the professional sports teams in the city. The ability to exchange ideas, listen to how they do their work each day was really impactful. To be able to meet other non-profits and 501 (c) (3) that want to be able to partner with the professional sports teams and figure out a way to get their message out was a huge success.”

The Eagles Care Summit provided vital information to help improve the already thriving Philadelphia Union Foundation. Since its inception in 2012, the Philadelphia Union Foundation has served as the heart and soul to the youth of Chester and the Greater Philadelphia Region. In 2013 alone, the Foundation has touched the lives of over 2,000 children in Chester. Using soccer as a conduit for change, the Foundation reinforces character values of integrity, effort, accountability and pride.

“Kudos to the Eagles for pulling this off. We were really pleased to participate to give information and be able to get information,” said Jacobs.

With the collaboration of the most successful programs in the Philadelphia region, expect big things coming from the Philadelphia Union Foundation in the upcoming years.

For more information on the Philadelphia Union Foundation and its mission, visit: www.philadelphiaunion.com/foundation

 

15 April 3:04 pm

On Thursday April 3, the Philadelphia Union partnered with the Chester Business Association, Chester City's Workforce Development Office, and the Chester Education Foundation to lead mock interviews with students of Chester High School and the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) Academy.

The workshop was designed to help sharpen the interview skills of the graduating senior class and to provide firsthand advice on resume-building and the job application process.

Over 200 students were invited to the Chester High School library to participate in mock interviews and discussions focused on enhancing their competence and comfort while searching for a job. Students sat down with representatives from the Union and other local businesses and were interviewed one-on-one to simulate the actual interview process. The interviews lasted ten minutes, and were immediately followed by a feedback session.

The interviewer worked with the student to highlight areas of strength during the interview as well as aspects where the student could improve or expand on their answers in subsequent interviews. This review period also allowed the students to ask questions of the interviewer related to the interview process and their own career paths.

The day also consisted of a work readiness presentation, where students attended a speech that included advice on how to enhance their marketability. They were able to ask questions about the best way to present themselves during an interview, and to inquire about how to start the job process itself.  This was followed by a resume help session, where professionals in the community helped each student create, update, and customize their resumes.

“This is such a valuable opportunity for students and interviewers alike. The students from Chester High School and surrounding schools entered slightly nervous, but very eager to participate,” said Leah Moore, Philadelphia Union's Manager of Business Development and Foundation with the Philadelphia Union. “The interviewers had a few minutes to really simulate the interview process. The segment directly following the mock interview provided students with the opportunity to immediately review their experience and also allowed the interviewers to discuss their reactions. The interview process is challenging, but with a little practice and mentorship, it becomes a lot less daunting. Overall, this program established a platform for growth in the important and challenging professional development arena. ”

The workshop was a resounding success. This was an excellent opportunity for students to prepare themselves for the future, while the volunteers for the Philadelphia Union were able to give back to the Chester community by sharing their experiences and advice. 

10 April 9:49 am

If you were to walk into any gym you would see people of all shapes and sizes exercising. You may see the guy in the corner finishing up a set of “ABS” and then lifting up his shirt to see if he now has developed a six pack. You may see the business man texting on his phone as he spins aimlessly on a bike. The point that I want to stress is that everyone has their own way of training which is fine but I would like to share with you five habits of successful exercise.

1. Exercise must be mindful

In her book "Deep Nutrition," Dr. Catherine Shanahan, M.D. talks about the benefits of mindful exercise for fat loss. Let  me ask you a question, do you have a plan every time you go into the  gym or do you just “wing it” and go through the same routine day in and day out?  Do you zone out on the bike while watching Judge Judy? Your mind needs to play a key role in your training. Here is one way you can do this. This week either train outside or try something totally new to stimulate a new response for your body.

2. Monitor your progress

If you are a runner do you track your distance? If your goal is fat loss are you tracking your RECOVERY between intervals? My point is you need to monitor your results. For less than $100 you can purchase a very good heart rate monitor. Instead of just saying “I feel better” let's track some numbers to show the real benefits of your hard work. If we start to measure something we can then improve on our results.

3. Have the END in mind

What is your goal? What are you trying to obtain? Is it fat loss your after or is your goal to do ten pull ups? Having the end in mind BEFORE your start is a powerful motivator for people.

4. Everything Matters

Congratulations on having just finished a 45 minute spin class at 6 am. Good for you. However if you go home and eat all processed food, drink energy drinks and caffeine all day and stay up past midnight playing Candy Crush  you will see no benefits from the spin class. We all know that sleep, hydration, nutrition and happiness all play a key role in our health but how many of us are giving our bodies what it actually needs. Contrary to what most people think over the course of the day the “little things” really matter in the end.

5. Time Management

We are all pressed for time these days. Some people are fortunate and they may have 60-75 minutes per day to train. Others like me have a smaller window where we need to manage our day to ensure that we get in a training session. When I go to the gym I see so many people wasting time. They may do a set and then for the next three minutes complain about how the sauna is broken again for the third time  this month or you have the group of ladies who argue about one person taking "their spin bike."

Give me a break. Next time you train have a plan and get after it. I'm not saying you can't say hello to people but your time is precious. Get in, get out and get on with your day!

Remember you can start to build good healthy habits and monitor your progress you will start to see some nice gains in how you look, feel and perform.

Good luck!

Have a question for Union fitness coach Kevin Miller? Leave a comment below. 

07 April 6:41 pm

 

Thank YOU!

With your help, we raised in excess of $120,000 in net proceeds from our 2nd Annual Cocktails and Cleats celebration on March 12th. These contributions will be instrumental in advancing our mission of providing opportunities for children through the power of relationships and transformation.

A change in the areas of: education, community, health and recreation. 

Thanks to your support, we will be able to continue to provide these programs and opportunities to the youth of Chester and the Greater Philadelphia Region. Character development, enhanced academic performance and nutritional education remain the focal points of the Foundation’s programming initiatives. Your contributions will serve to ensure that these areas continue to be both impactful and inclusive of the children we serve.

 

The evening also provided an opportunity to highlight the good work of two friends and soccer partners in our community. We were honored to recognize and celebrate the outstanding achievements of legendary coach and US National Team Player, Pennsylvania’s favorite son, Walter Bahr and Philadelphia’s own Bob Kozlowski; teacher, coach, administrator and loyal volunteer. These two men underscore the idea that, together, we can Be The Change!

 

Your contribution will allow the Foundation to continue to promote the character values of integrity, effort, accountability and pride. Thanks again for your willingness to change a generation, one relationship at a time.


“Michael Curry, Board Chairman - Philadelphia Union Foundation, addresses over 500 guests at the 2014 Cocktails & Cleats Celebration, on the Foundation’s recent successes and the importance of our collective efforts towards this cause.”


“(From Left to Right) Rick Jacobs, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Union Foundation; Nick Sakiewicz, CEO & Operating Partner of Philadelphia Union; Bob Kozlowski, 2014 Award Honoree and Michael Curry, Board Chairman, the Philadelphia Union Foundation – honoring Bob Kozlowski with the 2014 Building Blocks Award for his continued service and dedication to the soccer community, at the 2nd Annual Cocktails & Cleats Celebration.”

With gratitude,
The Philadelphia Union Foundation

Please feel free to visit the Foundation’s website

 

 

25 March 2:55 pm

All of us are pressed for time. Between work, family, social obligations and finding time for ourselves it’s hard to find the time to fit in a good workout. I get asked this question a lot. “How long do I need to train in order to see some benefits”. That is a tough question to answer without knowing the person and having a good understating of their goals as well as their current level of fitness. With that being said, I want to share with you three of my “go to workouts” when I am pressed for time.

Workout No. 1: Hill Repeats

When I think of hill repeats I think of Walter Payton wearing a “Roos” headband crushing hills while other guys are lagging behind sucking wind. Athletes have been running hills for years but it’s that image in my head that motivates me to get out and run up and down a hill.  Hill running is a great way to get ready for speed training and harder workouts that will happen down the road. It’s a great way to “strength train” your legs without the weights. Here is one workout you can try. Ideally you would run on a soft surface but if you are unable to find a gradual soft hill you can run these on the street.

Week 1: 5 repeats x 15 seconds (Rest 60 seconds)

Week 2: 6 repeats x 15 seconds (Rest 50 seconds)

Week 3: 7 repeats x 15 seconds (Rest 45 seconds)

Week 4: 8 repeats x 15 seconds (Rest 35 seconds)

Week 5: Omit. No hill running this week.

Note: Start with a gradual hill with a slight incline. If you are a beginner do not go and find the steepest hill in the neighborhood. Find a gradual climb and start with five (5) runs and progress to eight (8) over a four (4) week period. As you get stronger increase the work time until you reach 45-60 seconds.

Workout No. 2: Kettlebell circuit

Just for the record I am "not a kettlebell guy." I am not certified by any organization however, I really enjoy using kettlebells with the athletes and clients that I work with. It’s simply one of the many “tools” that I have in my toolbox to help people obtain the results that they are looking for. I think with the proper coaching they can add tremendous value to your training program. Please note that I would recommend that you work with a qualified coach who can assess/screen you and can teach you the basics of how to use kettlebells. Like all strength training exercises start light and perfect your form before progressing to heavier weight.

Set the timer for 10 minutes and perform the following circuit. Rest as much as you need to in order to maintain good form.

1. Kettlebell swings: five (5) reps

In order to do a proper swing you must learn how to hinge at your hips. The mistake most people make is that they squat instead of hinge. Let your legs do the work and guide the “bell” with your arms.

2. Kettlebell goblet squat: five (5) reps

Hold the kettlebell close to your body and squat as deep as you comfortable can. Push the knees out, keep your chin tucked and stand tall at the finish of the movement. Don’t allow the weight to drift to far from your body.

3. Push ups: ten (10) reps

Maintain a flat back, elbows in and push away at the finish. If you are unable to do a full push up than drop to your knees and perform a modified version.

Rest for 15-30 seconds depending on your fitness level. Repeat for 10 minutes. At the end of ten minutes  record the amount of the completed rounds and the weight lifted.

Workout No. 3: Head to the park

If you don’t belong to a gym however you want to challenge yourself head to your local park and give this circuit a try.

  • Monkey bar pull ups: 5 reps
  • Body Weight squats: 10 reps
  • Resistance band 2 hand presses: 5 reps
  • Single leg squats to a park bench: 5 reps/side
  • Bear crawl for distance (30 yds)
  • Rest and repeat for time (10-20 minutes)

If you do this workout people will look at you funny and some people will ask you what you are doing. My response is normally “I am training”. The next question is normally “How are you exercising without any equipment” to which I respond “ I have all the equipment I need at a park. It’s one of the best places to train”.

It goes without saying. Before you do any workouts you need to warm up properly. For some people that may be 5-10 minutes. For others like me I need 10-15 minutes to get moving. The key point to remember is when you are pressed for time there are several  ways that  you can train. You just need to make health a priority and stop making excuses!

Train hard and train smart!

Union strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller is also a featured panelist in the Sports Doc blog (link: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sportsdoc) on Philly.com. For best practices along with additional health and fitness tips, check out: Philly.com/Health

 

 

10 March 4:41 pm

In preparation for a Major League Soccer season, a lot of time and consideration goes into what the players need to play at such a high level each and every week.  As fans you see the finished product but as coaches we have to assemble a plan that gives our players the best chance for success.  During the preseason we have several things we want to work, some of the key areas that we focus on are the following:

  • Building a strong aerobic base and alactic energy system
  • Improving movement quality off the ball
  • Building a strong base of strength
  • Implementing a solid nutrition program
  • Focusing on acceleration and deceleration (both with and without the ball)
  • Implementing a recovery plan
  • Stress and fatigue management
  • Assessment and movement screening for each player

It’s naïve to think that every player is going to arrive in camp in great shape. One of the great things about preseason training is that you get to spend quality time (5-6 weeks) on the road with the players and find out what they excel at and what areas they may need to improve upon. Every athlete I have ever come in contact can improve in at least 1-2 areas.  As the fitness coach it’s my responsibility to work with the coaching and medical staff to try to identify what areas may be lacking and develop a   plan to ensure that every player is progressing towards the end goal which is the chance to play at a high level each and every week.

Below are five (5) key fitness/training related areas that we focus on during the preseason:

1. Individual screening, assessments and testing for each player

One of the first things we do is look at each player individually and screen them.  It is my job along with the medical staff to screen each player so we can assemble an individual plan for the guys. To accomplish this we came up with the following plan:

Functional Movement Screen

This is a seven point screen that was created by Gray Cook and Lee Burton. This has been around since 1998 and is currently being utilized by thousands of coaches across the world. The goal is to look at fundamental movement patterns to identify what areas players may be deficient in and to identify any major asymmetries that may exist. It’s simply a screen to try and identify any limitations in movement that may cause an injury down the road.

Additional Screening/Assessments

  • Breathing patterns
  • Pelvic alignment
  • Omega wave testing: This provides detailed information on players cardiac, metabolic and central nervous system readiness.

Speed

  • 10 meter and 30 meter sprint times

Power

  • Vertical Jump testing
  • Transition speed: Change of direction drill (30 yd. test to assess transition/change of direction speed)

Aerobic system

  • Beep Test

Upper Body Test

  • Pull-ups
  • Lower body assessment: single leg squat test

2. Developing the aerobic and alactic system

During the course of the game certain players can run as much as 6-7 miles. In order to be able to sustain this kind of effort a strong aerobic base needs to be in place to play at this level.  In order to progress the players each week we attempted to develop their aerobic system by incorporating as much movement with the ball as possible. We did not go out and run at a steady state for 60-75 minutes but rather the technical staff did an excellent job of incorporating as much work with the ball as possible.  Players really like this because they are working on their skill with the ball while at the same time we are building their aerobic base. We have to remember we are training soccer players not cross country runners.

An efficient aerobic system is critical for the success of our players.  To accomplish this we monitored the players by watching their heart rate as well as their recovery between movements and drills. An addition to making sure that the players have a strong aerobic base it’s critical that we make speed (alactic system) a priority in the training. A strong aerobic system will help the alactic (speed) system work efficiently.  In order to do this, players need to be alert and fatigue needs to be low to improve speed.  All of our speed work is done in the beginning of the training session after our movement prep and before fatigue may set in. Intensity is high (runs of 10-30 yards) and recovery is long (1-2 minutes) when we try and improve a players speed. As the season progresses we will increase the distance of the run (30-60 yards) and manipulate the recovery times to get the adaptations that we are looking for.  

When it comes to speed players will run faster without the ball than with the ball so implement speed training early in the session without the ball to ensure that players are running at top speeds.

3. Build a solid base of strength

As a strength coach I am always looking to make our players stronger.  I believe it’s one area that is often overlooked with soccer players.  During preseason there is so much to accomplish in a short time that strength training can sometimes be pushed to the side. I am very fortunate to have a coaching staff that understands the role that strength training plays in the development of our players. With that being said we try to focus on BASIC movement patterns that would allow our players to build a solid foundation for the season that we can build upon.  Below are some of the basic movement patterns that we try to focus on during preseason.

Single leg strength

  • Body weight squats to a bench
  • Hip hinge pattern (deadlifts, reaches)
  • Rear foot squats
  • Hip extension patterns

Squatting patterns

  • Goblet squats
  • Front squats
  • Pulling patterns

Pull-ups

  • DB rows
  • Band rows
  • Pushing
  • Several variations of push ups
  • DB bench press variations
  • Overhead pressing

Lunges

  • Reverse
  • Lateral
  • Core

Anterior core training: Roll outs

  • Turkish Get Ups (Starting with the lowest progression and advancing)
  • Rolling/Crawling
  • Supine (lying on your back) to prone (stomach) to quadruped (all fours)

Note: We do not perform any crunches with the players.

Deceleration

  • Jumping
  • Linear/lateral

4. Nutrition and Hydration

At the end of the day nutrition and the quality of food that our athletes consume plays a critical role in how they will recover and perform on the field. I truly believe that if you have two athletes with the same skill and aerobic system the one with the better nutrition will outperform the other athlete on the field.

I try and keep it very simple for the players when it comes to nutrition. Everyone is different and my goal is to provide simple yet effective recommendations based off of what I have been able to learn from experts in the field of nutrition. Experts worth reading, in my opinion, include Robb Wolf, John Berardi, Brian St. Pierre and Catherine Shanahan to name a few.

  • Eat real unprocessed food as much as possible
  • Learn to cook simple nutritious meals
  • Consume quality meats, fats and carbohydrates on a daily basis
  • Buy local food whenever possible
  • Make hydration a priority by limiting the amount of sport drinks and energy drinks
  • On a daily basis consume 5-6 servings of vegetables and fruits.

Always have good healthy snack options with you for when you get hungry. This can be as easy as having a bag of homemade trail mix with you in case you get hungry.

5. Recovery

At the end of the day training is easy. I don’t mean it is easy to train for 2-3 hours each day but rather when we train we cause a disruption on our body that signals a response. It’s that response that helps us grow and adapt. If we want to reap the benefits of a particular training session we MUST develop a good recovery plan for our players.  As I have stated above everyone is different and some players respond to one recovery method while another player may not respond to that particular stimulus. To keep things simple we try and provide a few options to the players.  Here is a short list of some of the strategies that we implement with the players:

  • Massage
  • Post workout nutrition
  • Chiropractor treatments
  • Breathing techniques
  • Quality sleep every night
  • Contrasts in water
  • Foam rolling/stretching

The MLS season is very long and demanding. Injuries can‘t be prevented but we can reduce a player’s chance of getting hurt.  As the fitness coach my number one goal is to do everything possible to keep the players healthy and provide to them the necessary tools that can keep them on the field. I truly believe what the players do off of the field is just as important as what they do on the field.  If you are a coach at the high school or club level don’t try and implement all of the strategies above right away. Educate yourself on a few of the tips listed above and read as much as possible from experts in their field. The more we can educate our players the better off they will be when it comes time to play the game.

 Good luck with your training!

Union strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller is also a featured panelist in the Sports Doc blog http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sportsdoc on Philly.com. For best practices along with additional health and fitness tips, check out: Philly.com/Health