Hello everyone, and welcome to the final blog regarding my experiences in Barcelona, Spain studying the MBP Methodology.
For starters, I am back in the United States and after a crazy holiday period, I am ready to share my final post on the MBP Master in High Performance Soccer course. I wanted to hold off on the final post due to the wide range of emotions that I have experienced since leaving Barcelona.
Let’s get started.
In the 16th and final week of the MBP Master, we learned from Xavi Garcia and Dr. Altarriba in addition to two guest coaches: Josep Espar (former professional handball player for FC Barcelona) and Agustin Lleida (Director of Physical Preparation at Pachuca (Mexico).
In our final session with Xavi, he continued to provide us with an immense amount of knowledge. Besides guiding us towards/identifying emotions that I did not even know existed, he taught us a particular lesson that registered deeply with me. Xavi said that when a team first begins a new season, everything is all sunshine and rainbows since all dreams are still possible. However, the minute a team experiences turbulent times is when the true strength or identity of the team is realized. He continued to express that all teams will experience difficult times throughout the course of a season, and when it happens, the coach must seek to reconnect the team to its ‘essence’. By reconnecting the team to its ‘essence’ (i.e. style of play, beliefs on soccer etc.), the coach can lift the team spirit and togetherness.
For instance, in Pep Guardiola’s 1st season in charge of FC Barcelona, his team began the Liga campaign with a 1-0 loss to Numancia and a 1-1 draw to Racing Santander. Immediately the coach was under immense pressure from the club, fans, and press. However, Guardiola reconnected the team to its ‘essence’ (reassuring the players that executing his style of play will bring happiness and results), which led the team to winning the next 9 games in a row and ultimately all 6 titles that season.
On Wednesday the 16th, we were lucky enough to learn from the former FC Barcelona handball player, Josep Espar. Currently Josep is a renowned handball coach who is constantly challenging the ‘status quo’ of coaching. Learning from Josep was an incredible experience because not only are his experiences unique, but his coaching methods directly relate to the MBP Methodology (Josep did not have previous knowledge of the MBP method). Specifically, Josep spent a lot of time discussing how to appropriately communicate with the team. Have a look at this TED Talk by Simon Sinek for more detailed information regarding the messages that Josep transmitted to us.
On Thursday the 17th, we had our final session with Dr. Altarriba which included two parts. During the morning, Dr. Altarriba arranged for us to visit Dani Ramero’s training facility in order to gain a better perspective of how coaches seek to improve physical performance in Spain. The experience was unique because the facility was quite different from facilities in the US since the gym did not have weights. Instead, the facility utilized machines such as the “VersaPulley” and the “Yo-Yo” machine. In essence, the machines are designed to increase the player’s eccentric strength. Typically, most injuries occur during the eccentric phase of muscular contractions, and these machines are a great way to increase eccentric strength within sport specific movements. I have embedded two videos that show how both machines are used.
During the 2nd phase of the day with Dr. Altarriba, we learned about injury prevention models and return to play protocols. Specifically, Dr. Altarriba focused on hamstring injuries since that is one of the most common injuries in soccer. Dr. Altarriba explain that there are many factors that must be taken into consideration when assessing possible reasons for an injury, but universally it is understood that previous injury results in a 2-6x greater risk of re-injury. Due to the nature of the sport, players must be exposed to a proper injury prevention/strength and conditioning plan in order to decrease the possibility of sustaining injuries.
On the final day of the course (the 18th), Agustin Lleida gave a great presentation regarding his work as the director of physical preparation at Pachuca. The presentation was exciting because we submitted questions to Agustin on subjects that we wanted to learn about. As I reflect back on the presentation, I was most impressed with the “sports culture” that Agustin has developed at Pachuca. Specifically, Agustin expressed to us that the club seeks to educate and help players to understand the importance of proper sleep, nutrition, training, and recovery. In essence, it is his job to show the players how to take care of themselves. The more I learn about sports performance, the more it comes back to the importance of recovery.
After Agustin’s presentation, it was my turn to present my final project. As I alluded to in the previous post, we had to construct our own game model and present it to the class. All in all, I was extremely happy with the presentation, as my main goal was to connect the theories we learned to my style of play. Below I have attached some photos from my presentation!
To end my final days in Barcelona (the course ended on the 18th and my flight home was on the 20th), I went back to the Camp Nou tour in order to reflect on my time in Barcelona. I read just about every piece of information in the museum (again) and then I took a seat in the stadium to think back on the past 4 months. For starters, I cannot begin to thank everyone at MBP enough for everything that they did for me throughout my time in Barcelona. When I embarked on the MBP adventure in August, I was entering a world of ‘unknown’, and now roughly 5 months later, I leave Spain with friends that I will have for the rest of my life.
When friends or colleagues ask about my experience in Barcelona, I simply tell them that the reality of the course far exceeded any expectation I could have had. Not only did each professor, teacher, and guest presenter challenge us in ways that I did not think were possible, but they were also there for us at every step of our learning process. Throughout the blog posts, I kept repeating, “the MBP coaches respect the complexity of soccer”, and for me that has left a lasting impact. After taking part in the MBP Master in High Performance Soccer, I am convinced that there is nothing simple about the game of soccer, but due to the exceptional teaching and learning environment, I feel confident that I now possess the appropriate tools to decode the complexities of the sport.
On a side note, a huge congratulations is in order for Dr. Albert Rude. Last month, Dr. Rude was presented with an opportunity to turn his dream of becoming a 1st division professional coach into a reality. Without hesitation, Dr. Rude accepted the offer and joined Pachuca’s coaching staff as the 1st Assistant Coach! Dr. Rude is truly a footballing genius and I am beyond grateful that I have had the opportunity to learn from him on a daily basis.
To everyone at Sport Networking, I cannot thank you enough for making my time in Barcelona truly unforgettable. I am proud and excited to be part of the MBP Family.
If anyone is interested in learning more specific information about the MBP Master in High Performance Soccer course, feel free to contact me.
Thanks for following my journey in Barcelona for the past 4 months. I look forward to continuing to publish content and share new ideas and views on the game of soccer.