FRISCO, Texas – With a league-wide training suspension in effect through Friday, March 20, FC Dallas’ players have been given individual workout routines to do from home until normal training resumes.
MLS’s training moratorium also applies to reserve teams, meaning FCD’s USL League One affiliate North Texas SC is in the same situation. Since the players are prohibited from using team facilities at this time, athletic performance coaches Vander Salas and Ardavan Vahidtari had to get creative to keep them in shape.
“This is a unique time that we’re going through,” says Vahidtari. “Our priority is the health of the players, staff and the whole organization. We’re going to do our best to come up with individual plans to stay physically fit as best we can when we come back. We know that technically and tactically there’s a high chance that players will come back a little rusty. But the best we can do is come up with creative ideas to keep them all as fit as when they left.”
The routines typically consist of a morning and afternoon session and incorporate both anaerobic and aerobic exercises. Here’s an example of today’s (Wednesday, March 18) workout plan.
Knowing the players don’t have standard gym equipment, Salas and Vahidtari have devised workout plans that utilize body weight in leu of traditional weight training. And, since they’re unable to work with the players in person, the trainers make videos of themselves demonstrating the different exercises so they can follow along. This video goes along with Wednesday’s routine above.
You may have noticed Salas and Vahidtari using tennis shoes as markers while demonstrating a running/agility exercise instead of cones or ladders (1:45 in the video). While it may look a little strange, it’s by design.
“We don’t use any equipment because we know they (the players) don’t have any at their homes,” Vahidtari said. “So, we put things like, sandals, shoes and socks in place of cones. The idea is, ‘if we can do it at our house, you can do it in your house.’”
Here's an example of the players' afternoon strength training routine using books instead of dumbbells.
While all the players (both FCD and NTSC) receive the same workout routines daily, the trainers are constantly checking up with them in case they need to tailor the exercises to fit their individual needs.
“We know our overall objective of where we want them to be. At the same time, we Facetime the players every single day and ask them how they feel, if they need treatment, and we follow up with them on what they need to do. Some players need more work in certain areas like explosive power or long-distance running. In that case, I call the individual and ask them to do those specific things on top of the standard workout plan.”
Obviously, these are unprecedented times but FCD and NTSC’s coaching staffs are taking it in stride and thinking outside the box to maintain their players’ fitness for whenever the season restarts.
This [situation] also brings the whole organization together,” Vahidtari added. “Everything that North Texas SC is going through FC Dallas is going through; we’re in the same cycle. Right now, whatever I send out to NTSC players is the exact same thing that Vander [Salas] sends to the first team—like brothers.”