MEN'S AND WOMEN'S SOCCER
As we begin the 2008 season for men's and women's soccer, the Athletic Performance Department would like to provide UCLA fans with some insights into the work that our teams have undertaken over the summer. The preparation for a soccer player is extremely difficult primarily because of the complex nature of the sport's physical demands. A soccer player will run on average 10,000 meters, a little over 6 miles, within a game, but that 6 miles consists of multiple series of sprints, jumping, acceleration and deceleration. So in terms of a soccer player's fitness, not only must they have a great aerobic capacity to withstand 90 minutes of play, but a player must be extremely strong and powerful to be able to display speed, power, and agility during that 90 minutes. Because a soccer game requires endurance, speed, power, and agility, preparation really involves the careful arrangement of training all year long to maximally develop each of these independent athletic qualities. The summer training session brings all these different modes of training together in preparation for the Fall Season.
During the Summer, several of our players on the UCLA women's team competed at the national and Olympic level. Christina Dimartino helped the U.S. Under 23 National Team to its 10th Nordic Cup Championship. Kara Lang played for the Canadian Olympic team, who lost to the U.S. team in a grueling 120 minute game. And Lauren Cheney played on the gold medal U.S. Olympic team. Cheney was not alone on the Olympic team with Lindsay Tarpley, wife of UCLA women's assistant coach BJ Snow, playing forward and UCLA Women's Soccer head coach Jill Ellis acting as assistant coach to the US Team. The remaining players played on several club teams both in LA and throughout the country in order to sharpen up their skills for the 2008 season. Training for the female players that remained at UCLA during the summer was difficult, but by far the most productive summer session from the last several years. The girls participated in conditioning sessions 5 days per week, focusing on either change of direction and acceleration, linear speed and lactate threshold, or VO2 Max fitness. In addition, the girls would lift in the Acosta Training Center after conditioning, in order to ensure that they have the required strength for speed, change of direction, acceleration and deceleration on the field. The intense summer schedule was designed to prepare the girls for the demanding preseason schedule, which involves 4 days of speed, power, and fitness testing in addition to double day training sessions lasting roughly 2 hours each. The women's soccer team demonstrated a great amount of mental and physical toughness which can largely be attributed to the leadership of the senior class. They have been to the NCAA College Cup every season of their college careers, but have failed to secure the NCAA title. As a result, the seniors of this team demonstrate that perfect combination of discipline and hunger, which they are successfully passing on to the underclassmen. They understand the work that is required to get to the top every year, but continue to push themselves in the hopes of securing the elusive NCAA title for women's soccer.
UCLA men's soccer is equally hungry to return to compete for the NCAA title, just missing the title in 2006 and finishing in the second round in 2007. Men's Soccer's consistently high achievements can be attributed to an unparalleled commitment to fitness, the weight room, and becoming more explosive. Men's soccer has completed a tremendous amount of work over the course of the year and into the summer. They have dedicated themselves to all aspects of soccer fitness, including long runs to build a base of aerobic capacity, short sprints in order to maximize 1st step quickness and acceleration, as well as longer interval sprints, which help to develop work capacity and allows for the men to perform with a high intensity for long periods of time. The intense work that they perform on the field also requires a great amount of attention to regeneration and mobility work, in order to ensure that the body continues to function properly despite the high work loads. While the X's and O's of the off season training program are obviously important, the attitude of the players has been the most impressive. The competitiveness, sense of urgency to improve, and willingness to push their limits have been strongly demonstrated during this off-season. Competition amongst teammates always leads to improved performance. Whether we were training in the weight room or having a team competition, the guys always tried their best to win. The sense of urgency seen in each individual player has led to a renewed passion and purpose to succeed. The guys individually identified their weaknesses and assertively pursued the training methods needed turn those weaknesses into strengths.
The consistently high performance of both men's and women's soccer at UCLA is unparalleled within this country. A large part of their success can be attributed to the fact that these players understand the physical demands and preparation required to play at the highest level. The strong work ethic these teams have demonstrated off the field is most definitely a major contribution to the success both teams have found on the field.
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