With the gear being organized and allocated, the technical staff is also shifting from preseason to the first match of the 2015 season. Ravi Ramineni, the team’s Sport Scientist, is a key part of the club’s commitment to using data to make the most optimal decisions for its players.
“Preseason training is a little different. Although the last week of preseason, we start trying to simulate what we would do in a game,” said Ramineni. “So this week is more for trying to set up what we’re going to do, because guys are still coming back into their fitness.”
With preseason coming to a close, his focus will shift and the routine will change a bit as regular-season matches come to the forefront.
“We don’t have time to build fitness anymore, but what we have to do is optimize them so that they are ready for the next Saturday or Sunday,” said Ramineni.
While the data helps to drive the program, Ramineni is quick to credit David Tenney, the team’s Sport Science and Performance Manager, with developing a best practice. “He’s the vision. What we do here – why we have a leg up – is that we have a pretty good idea of what the demand of an MLS game is on a player,” said Ramineni.
Tenney uses the preseason to set a benchmark and help guide the progress of the team. “We’ve been using the preseason matches to judge fitness. The good thing is we have a lot of data on those guys last year, but we also have very good match data from the first games from last year as well. It’s about utilizing all the information,” Tenney said.
While someone might think the first matches of the year may still be a bit of a rebuilding phase for players, Tenney says he typically sees the exact opposite.
“The first matches tend to be really fast. The first three games are at a really high intensity level,” said Tenney. “With cooler temperatures and an eagerness to impress, players hit the ground running in the first matches of the season in a similar way they do during a playoff push.
“Everyone’s really wanting to prove that they belong so the first month the games are really fast,” said Tenney.
With the first two matches of the Sounders season at home in Seattle, supporters are in for a treat as the finishing touches for 2015 wrap up for this weekend’s first kick. The Rave Green will begin its seventh season in MLS against the New England Revolution at 6:30 p.m. PT.
You can learn more about the Sounders sports science processes by registering for the 2015 Seattle Sounders FC Sports Seminar that will be held in June.