It’s a beautiful game, but for David Tenney, it’s a science. Tenney is heading into his second full season as the Sounders FC Sport Science and Performance Manager, but he’s been with the club for seven years, serving as Fitness Coach from 2009-13. He is well-known not only within MLS circles, but in the greater sports world, as well. For nearly half a decade, he has organized a workshop that gathers a wide range of sports science experts in Seattle to talk about developments in the field.
“It’s been unbelievable. We started with 35 [attendees] four years ago. Last year we had 125 people from eight or nine different countries – speakers from all over,” Tenney said as he and his staff prepare for the 2015 MLS season. “Even right now, we have attendees from the NFL, NBA, EPL and some top NCAA teams.”
Tenney’s conference is a highlight every year for the Sounders, and has even evolved into a full-year of programming, with the most recent event being held this winter. That workshop, spanning over three days in December, focused specifically on building the antifragile team-sport athlete. Events like this allow a close collaboration by people who may not normally meet.
“One of the main drivers for me is looking at the disconnect between coaches and strength and conditioning people and sports scientists," Tenney said "…It’s finding a common ground and finding a way that the two can work in a complimentary way to improve how we train athletes.”
The programming also helps the Sounders build a reputation for their work off the pitch.
“From the perception side, it’s drawn a lot of attention to the club,” Tenney says. “We’ve had the opportunity to bring a lot of high-quality people into the club to see what we’re doing, as both attendees and presenters.”
This year’s event is no different and already includes four well-known speakers. The 2015 Sounders FC Sport Science Seminar will be held Tuesday, June 9 through Thursday, June 11 in Seattle.
“We have Terry Peters, who is Head Fitness Coach with B. V. Vitesse in Holland; Michael Watts, who’s the Performance Director for Aston Villa; Brendan Farhner, who’s the Head of Sports Science for the Richmond Tigers in the AFL; and Matt Jordan, who’s Head of Strength and Conditioning for the Canadian Sports Institute,” Tenney said.
With several months to go before the event, the staff is still working to finalize the slate.
“We hope to announce two or three others," Tenney said. "But already it’s varied backgrounds from them [the scheduled speakers] in different areas of the worlds, and also different areas of expertise.”
As more clubs look for the best practices on how to integrate data and technology, Tenney is confident that his staff has helped put the club at the forefront.
“I think that obviously, from the data standpoint, Seattle is immersed in this culture of analytics and data so we’re going to bring in people to help us learn about what they’re doing relative to what we’re doing," he said. "Bringing in people that are really high-level will ultimately help us to raise the bar for what we’re doing.”