Major League Soccer
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Fitness the focus

Oct 17, 2013

PRO Sports Scientist Matt Hawkey believes the Organization's inaugural year has been a big learning experience for the officials.

One of the main objectives when PRO was founded just over a year ago was to introduce a new and structured approach to the officials' physical training and development, and Hawkey has been at the forefront of the operation.

His main responsibility is to improve fitness, and to introduce fitness for purpose across the board, with passing on the understanding of how to do so being key.

Hawkey told "It has been a big year for the officials. We have made them understand that going out onto the field, and going out for a run, isn't really what we are looking for.

“Teaching the officials that this is a lot more than a simple fitness program has been a big part of what we have done, and continue to do, and I think that as they have started to learn a bit more about what I'm doing, and why, the success that they have had has been enlightening for them.

“We are trying to figure out what exactly it is that each official needs depending on where they live, the climate they are training in, and the other variables that come into play.”

The multiple Dallas training camps give Hawkey an opportunity to evaluate the officials’ development throughout the season, but daily updates are also important to maximize improvement. 

Each referee logs their heart rate variability each morning and, along with other data, that helps them tailor their daily approach to training without the intervention of Hawkey.

"The data provides them with an easy visual tool to know exactly where they are and that is what helps make training very individualized.

“We use the data they provide pretty extensively as far as a guide for them, and they really appreciate it because at times, particularly when travel affects them, it changes what should be involved in their day, and it helps me get an idea of where they are physically as well.

“If the data suggests that they are in the red zone and tired, then they are going to have a completely different day to what they would if they were in the green zone. But they just go about the specific workout that they have.”

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