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Clubs Show SPARQ at Winter Showcase

January 30, 2009

The SPARQ training results from the U.S. Development Academy’s Winter Showcase were recently released, and while all Academy clubs tested well against national benchmarks, one club led the way.

FC Milwaukee (Butler, Wis.) ranked among the top 10 Academy clubs each of the last two seasons, while two of the clubs players, Gavin Robertson (103.88) and Collin Monahan (99.20), posted the highest and third highest overall SPARQ ratings at the Winter Showcase. Their scores place them in the 99th percentile of SPARQ tests conducted around the world at this age group.

SPARQ, which stands for speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness, is an organization that provides physical testing and training for each Academy club as well as the U.S. National Teams. The overall SPARQ rating is derived from the four key soccer-specific athletic tests: Yo-yo intermittent recovery test, 20 meter sprint, Arrowhead Agility and Vertical Jump.

Development Academy

All Academy clubs will undergo a second round of tests during the Spring Showcase, with the idea being that the ratings can provide benchmarks and goals, while identifying specific areas that need improvement..

“We look at the tests and focus on the features that will help players improve,” said FC Milwaukee U-15/16 head coach Christian Lavers. “Specifically, we focus on the running Yo-yo and arrowhead agility tests because we know that they can be significantly improved in training.”

Though Lavers acknowledges that athleticism is only one attribute linked to performance on the soccer field, he was encouraged by the Winter Showcase results.

“I think there are several components of soccer and athleticism is one of them,” he said. “The challenge for us is translating that into consistent performance on the field. That requires a lot of other things. It’s a good measurement of athletic potential and lets us know that we can compete with anyone from an athletic standpoint.”

In addition to conducting the tests, SPARQ’s fitness expert, Paul Winsper designed themed training programs for Academy coaches to improve their team’s dynamic warm ups and strength conditioning. Winsper acted as the former fitness coach for Newcastle FC and is now the strength and conditioning coach for Toronto FC. He has conducted coaching seminars at the last three Academy Showcases as well as overseen the execution of the on-site SPARQ testing.

“SPARQ Training is the cornerstone of physical preparation for soccer players and an integral part of a team’s overall training plan,” said Winsper. “The tools and programs provided by SPARQ help coaches and players monitor progress and prepare for the physical demands of competition. Stronger players will suffer fewer injuries; more explosive players will be first to the ball; and fitter players will be more effective throughout the course of a game.”

Top 10 SPARQ Rated Clubs at Winter Showcase (Spring Showcase Ranking):
1. Real Colorado (NR)
2. FC Milwaukee (6)
3. Sockers FC (NR)
4. Birmingham United (13)
5. Carmel (NR)
6. Greensboro (NR)
7. Atlanta Fire (NR)
8. Vardar (NR)
9. CASA (NR)
10. Solar SC (NR)

*Only clubs that completed the full battery of SPARQ tests at both the U-15/16 and U-17/18 age groups were included in the rankings.

Top 10 SPARQ Scores U-17/18 SPARQ Rating
1. Gavin Robertson (FC Milwaukee) 103.88
2. Brad Jacobson (FC Westchester) 101.83
3. Collin Monahan (FC Milwaukee) 99.20
4. Levi Rossi (Real Colorado) 99.18
5. Mark Linnville (Greensboro) 98.50
6. Mike Mangotic (Internationals) 98.40
7. Jared Isenthal (Carmel) 97.65
8. Jeremy Shelley (CASL) 96.63
9. Charlie Rugg (FC Greater Boston) 95.58
10. Nick MacKain (Atlanta Fire) 94.55

*All of the above Academy players scored in the 98th percentile based on SPARQ’s Performance Guide. The performance guides bases these scores and percentile rankings from test data on a sample of 14-18 year old club and professional soccer players from the USA, Europe and South America.

Top 10 SPARQ Scores U-15/16 SPARQ Rating
1. George Fradenburg (Birmingham United) 97.25
2. Stefen Picton (North Meck) 94.73
3. Vlad Lekarev (CASA) 94.43
4. Zachary DeVille (San Diego Surf) 93.63
5. Kwesi Alleyne (Schulz Academy) 87.75
6. Yamil Roman (Oakwood) 86.93
7. Chris Somerville (FC Delco) 86.90
8. Tim Kreutz (Sockers FC) 86.33
9. Tyler Evans (San Diego Surf) 84.93
10. Momudu Sluwar (FC Delco) 84.55

*All of the above Academy players scored in the 95th percentile based on SPARQ’s Performance Guide. The performance guides bases these scores and percentile rankings from test data on a sample of 14-18 year old club and professional soccer players from the USA, Europe and South America.

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