We are now two days away from Dynamo Trials, and although I feel more ready than I did two weeks ago, I would not mind having an extra week or two of training with the Academy to improve my fitness. As I mentioned in my last entry, Wednesday night’s training session was going to focus heavily on conditioning, and it certainly lived up to the billing. For last night’s session, I trained with the Dynamo U-18s, a group with which I am more familiar, as many of these players were on the Holland trip that I went on with the Academy back in June.
We began the session with a few warm-up exercises to get everyone moving. These drills encompassed running within the 18-yard box, changing directions, and doing an array of exercises to loosen the muscles. The final exercise was a game of handball, a game I have seen the Dynamo first team play on numerous occasions. Just to be clear, the players needed to throw the ball to each other through the air, as opposed to kicking the ball with their feet. Last night, players on each team needed to pass the ball five times consecutively without letting the ball drop or having the person with the ball be tagged by a player on the opposing team. Each time a team reached five consecutive passes, that team earned one point. For every three points earned, the opposing team needed to do 20 push-ups. Thankfully, the team I was on won all of the games, so we did not need to do any push-ups, and I could conserve my energy for the next exercise.
Following handball, the players did one more timed speed drill before the beep test. For those unfamiliar with the beep test, it is designed to test both a player’s speed and endurance. For this particular test, two sets of cones were placed 20 yards apart. The 20-yard runs are synchronized with a pre-recorded audio tape, which plays beeps at set intervals. The audio tape will let you know when you should be halfway done with your run and when you should be finished with each run. After the recording announces that you are finished with your 40-yard run, players have a few seconds to rest before the recording tells you to start again. The timing of each run gets shorter and shorter, so by the final run you might only have 6 seconds to finish the sprint as opposed to the first run, where you might have as much as 10 seconds. This may seem like a long time for a 40-yard dash, but taking into account the time it takes to turn at the end of 20 yards, the weather, and how many previous runs you have already done, it certainly is not that easy.
The players were broken into two groups with each group running for four minutes. After the second group finished its four-minute set, the first group would step up again. Each group ran four times total. To say I was drained by the end of the fourth beep test would be an understatement. Although not every kid was able to finish each sprint in the allotted time, I was definitely impressed with the number of kids who were able to finish, including those that finished the test quite easily. It’s certainly a testament to the players and the commitment they have to their bodies and the Dynamo Academy program.
Following the beep test, the players moved over to one of the grass fields for an 8 v. 8 scrimmage. I told the Academy coaches from the beginning that although I would love to participate in their training sessions, I did not want to take any reps away from the players, especially with their season on the horizon. With that said, I remained on the side with a few of the injured players and did core-work to improve our abdominal muscles. This may have been as strenuous as the scrimmage, but it certainly gave me some ideas of exercises to work on going forward.
Tonight I’ll be back in action with the Academy for my final training session before Saturday’s tryout. I have been told tonight’s session will involve a combination of fitness and ball-work, which will be beneficial if I am able to move on to the skills test on Sunday.
As always, thanks for following along and be sure to look out for tomorrow’s entry.