Milk jugs and GPS: football training in the age of COVID-19
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Inter Miami captain Luis Robles never imagined his first few months in South Florida would be like this.
Two weeks ago, the veteran Major League Soccer goalkeeper had been preparing to lead David Beckham's new franchise into their first ever home game.
But 48 hours before that eagerly awaited landmark fixture against the LA Galaxy on March 14, the coronavirus pandemic brought the US sports world to a standstill.
It has left Robles and his team-mates in limbo, unable to train properly and in the dark over when the season may resume.
With MLS facilities shuttered, Robles and his team-mates have been required to improvise in order to stay fit.
"It's an unprecedented situation and it's really tough at times to find a place to train but the most important thing is to continue to follow the guidelines from health officials," Robles said during a conference call on Wednesday.
- Getting creative -
"We all have been finding time in the day to carve out the training regimen given to us. Most of it is running and then a couple of days a week there is a strength portion.
"You can do that at home. I don't have weights but one of the examples used when it comes to resistance training is filling up a gallon milk jug and using that as a weight. I have done that for some of the exercises so it is a creative way to do the training."
Luckily for Robles, some of his team-mates live near him in the Florida suburbs so pounding the streets hasn't seemed like such a chore.
"I am not a runner," he said. "But running with some of the other guys who live close keeps me motivated and held accountable.
"It has also helped me work on a part of my game - endurance - which often gets overlooked as a keeper. Over these last two weeks this is probably an aspect of my training which I will look to keep improving when we do get back to normal."
Robles has, however, enjoyed spending time with his young family during this unexpected break yet a career change isn't on the horizon.
"The one thing which has been apparent to my wife and I is that we aren't cut out for homeschooling," he said. "We are learning on the fly."
Miami's USA international midfielder Wil Trapp has also been forced outside of his comfort zone.
"It's an exercise in how to be creative," he told AFP.
"I am using a lot of bodyweight things but I have been ordering a lot of stuff on-line and building my own home gym. I have wanted to do that for a while and this has prompted me to do it as a necessity."
- GPS tracking -
Personalized training regimes are altered depending on position with a GPS system tracking running distances to allow coach Diego Alonso and his staff to monitor progress.
Video meetings are also conducted regularly within the squad and have been well received.
"It's amazing in 2020 what resources are out there so that even in light of this situation, we can conduct business and continue to look incrementally as to how we can improve as a team," said Robles.
"For holding midfielders, we have video meetings and go over aspects of our game model both from an attacking and defensive posture," added Trapp.
"We are given clips and then asked for solutions. We are continuing to think and learn. For me it's stimulating to have soccer homework."
Former New York Red Bulls keeper Robles, in his role as team representative, took part in a League wide conference call on Tuesday with MLS chief Garber to get the latest update from the various authorities charged with attempting to deal with the crisis.
"(Garber) is constantly corresponding with all the owners around the League to get real time information and what are the implications for us all moving forward," Robles said.
"MLS are looking at every option and scenario possible so we can get a full season."
For now, however, everything remains mired in uncertainty.
"Sooner or later we will be back to normal but right now, the most important thing is we aren't soccer players," said Robles.
"We are human beings and we need to do whatever it takes to flatten the curve."
© 2020 AFP