Introducing the first episode of our three-part Wattbike Soccer Mini-Series with Ben Young, Inter Miami Head of Strength and Conditioning.
In this series, we explore the key aspects of elite sport training; from athlete engagement and intent, performance training, rehabilitation, delving into the data and soccer-specific conditioning.
In this episode, we focus on athlete engagement and intent, why both are so important to overall performance and the benefits of delving into the training data.
AN INTRO TO INTER MIAMI CF
As Head of Strength and Conditioning, Ben Young is tasked with the physical strength and conditioning of the first-team players at Inter Miami CF, an American professional soccer club established in 2018 with aspirations to dominate the Major League Soccer (MLS) and co-owned by David Beckham.
Inter Miami has recently gained attention from world football with the recent addition to the squad of seven-time Ballan d’Or winner Lionel Messi as well as previous Barcelona teammates Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. Since then, Inter Miami have won the Leagues Cup and are in the final of the Open Cup and on a campaign to get into the MLS playoffs.
Other recent additions to the Florida Blue Training Facility have been two Wattbike Pros, so we’ve teamed up with Ben to find out exactly how the Wattbikes are being used to help support high performance training with the team. Let’s hear what he has to say…
ATHLETE ENGAGEMENT AND INTENT
Why was it important for you to get Wattbikes into the facility?
I’ve used Wattbikes in the past throughout my career at Saracens Rugby, as well as with the Men’s and Women’s England National Teams with brilliant success so when I saw that Inter Miami didn’t have any, they immediately went onto my shopping list for the club.
What do you mean by athlete engagement and intent?
Athlete intent describes the mental commitment and enthusiasm that the player bring to each training session. When we talk about engagement, we’re referring to their active participation, focus and willingness to push themselves to their limits, both in intensity and their attention to technique. These facets are all about fostering a mindset that values the importance of the work you are completing and ultimately, drives maximal purpose behind every repetition, exercise and drill.
Why is athlete intent and engagement so important?
In order to drive physical adaptation, you need to exceed the previous stimulus. In order to do that at the highest level, athletes need to put maximal effort into extracting every ounce of benefit from each session, whether it's building strength, improving agility or enhancing fitness and endurance.
By instilling a culture of high athlete engagement and intent, we not only optimize physical development but also cultivate a winning mentality that transcends the training pitch onto the soccer field, ultimately contributing to the team’s overall success.
How does the Wattbike help with athlete engagement and intent?
The Wattbikes put out so much data, both in real-time and retrospectively, that the bikes help us integrate an element of competition into our training. And for this level of athlete, or this group in particular, they react really well when we introduce a bit of competition, be it against themselves and their own Wattbike data or against each other. Competition on the Wattbike drives some really impressive physical outputs from the lads.
We’ve currently got four leaderboards up at the front of where the Wattbikes are so that players can check in against their records, or others, before the session giving them a target to try and beat.
What data do you focus on from Wattbike?
The real-time data we really hone in on from the Wattbikes often comes in three main metrics. We often simply use speed as a way to calculate how much force a player is able to sustain for a given distance or over a set period of time, Watt per kg within the session to make things relative between the larger and smaller players as well as using the live heart rate connected to the Wattbike to see the time each player is spending in ‘the red zone’.
Ben Young is a professional physical performance specialist and strength and conditioning coach from the UK currently working as Head of Strength and Conditioning for Inter Miami CF. Ben is also the founder of E-Perform Football, a specialist online football training company.