A Special Letter To Season Members From Free Jacks Head Of Strength & Conditioning, George Petrakos

5/22/24

Dear Season Members,

Welcome to the final block of regular season games! With six games to go, we’re aiming to build on the momentum from San Diego and deliver six excellent performances to top the Eastern Conference. Your continued support from the stands will be a key factor as we face a very strong Dallas team in early June. From a physical perspective, I urge you to keep the energy high when our boys are chasing kicks and reloading into position during long periods of play!

Away Days

Our players recently returned home from an impressive victory over San Diego. The Physical Performance department collaborates closely with Operations to prepare our Free Jacks for long trips.

Planning begins months in advance. We determine the best travel days and flights. Our preferred option is to train on the morning of the flight when travelling from East to West. We travel a day earlier than usual, with our flight leaving two days before the game instead of the day before, as we do when playing more local teams such as Miami or DC. The extra day in San Diego helps with recovery from travel fatigue, acclimation to a new time zone, and mobility after a cramped six-hour flight.

Ricci Persico leads our travel plans for players. He guides our players on optimal sleep times, caffeine timing, and sunlight exposure as we adapt to the new time zone. For example, Ricci recommends various coffee shop visits and nap windows throughout the trip. Tom Kindley ensures our nutrition suppliers are primed to deliver high-quality goods as we prepare for big physical performances against our West Coast rivals.

We decided to catch a red-eye flight home. While the journey is fairly arduous after a physical match, the payoff comes when players arrive home to spend more time with their loved ones and rest in their own beds before we commence training for Miami.

More than just physical fatigue

Our job is to account for all types of player fatigue. The stress of a tough game, combined with long travel and low-quality sleep, affects cognitive fatigue. High cognitive fatigue can reduce our ability to learn new information (e.g., the Miami game plan) and execute fine skills (passing, breakdown accuracy, kicking accuracy). The Physical Performance department, in collaboration with Operations and Coaching staff, created a Miami schedule that emphasizes physical and cognitive recovery. We started late on Tuesday, allowing players to sleep longer. Gym training emphasized mobility and movement, while field training focused more on learning plays, reducing the pressure on players to execute immediately. The coaching staff adapted their San Diego review, allowing players to review the game in their own time, giving them control over how and when they learn. We are confident our efforts will pay off, and I look forward to strong performances against Miami and Dallas. Thank you for your continued support. Let’s ride!

 

George Petrakos

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