We recently provided sports science support to the U16 squad from Elite Football at the Gothia Cup in Sweden. The Gothia Cup is the largest Youth tournament in the world with over 30,000 players taking part each year. With a potential 10 games over a gruelling 6 day period the management team at Elite Football realised the need for our expertise in order to minimise the inevitable drop in performance as the tournament progressed.
We highlighted hydration and refuelling strategies as an area that would potentially make a huge difference. The baseline hydration levels of all the players were measured using the Osmocheck device. It was found that only 8 of the 21 strong squad were adequately hydrated even before a ball had been kicked. This gave good numerical feedback to the players and highlighted the importance of regular fluid intake throughout the day. Re-testing was carried out on a daily basis.
Instructions were given to the players on what to eat, what to drink, and when to do it. The timing of taking food or drink on board is just as important as what is actually eaten or drunk.
The squad adjusted to the professional regime very quickly and won all three of their group games (2-0, 3-0 and 1-0) comfortably without ever looking like conceding a goal, and more importantly from our point of view players reported feeling fresh and ready for the knockout stages of the tournament.
Again the game was dominated by the Elite team, however, on a small and very uneven pitch that stifled their quick counter attacking style they were unable to make the break through and the game ended 0-0. No extra time meant the lottery of penalty kicks, and unfortunately the better team lost out.
Even though the team did not get the results they deserved, they did learn a lot about how they should look after themselves if they want to realise their goals of becoming a professional footballer. From a player development point of view the experience was seen by many as being invaluable.
Some squad members valued our input so much they have sought our help on a one to one basis to help them achieve their potential, by reducing their future risk of injury and guiding their physical development in order to reach their athletic peak.
The excellent work of Will Amor should also be recognised as he delivered first class warm-ups and warm downs throughout the week, as well as his first rate physiotherapy treatments.
If you would like more information on how we at ATAK can help maximise your team's performance please feel free to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org .