By Ottawa Sportspage, For Ottawa TFC Soccer Club
While most of the country and the global sports world shuts down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ottawa TFC Soccer Club players are continuing to hone their skills and improve their fitness daily thanks to the implementation of an innovative Virtual Training program.
“I’m pretty sure nobody else is getting better this morning in this entire province, maybe even this country,” Ottawa TFC General Manager tells his players in a Virtual Training demo video assembled by the club as they warm up for one of their first sessions.
The program stemmed from the Monday meeting where the club’s leaders, “like everyone else, said, ‘What are we going to do?” Cancura laughs.
The default plan was to send players a session plan and ask them to work through it on their own, but “we know that the percentage of people who do it is unfortunately really low,” recounts Cancura, noting motivation can be lacking, even with high-level athletes.
So the lead coaches instead began furiously working on developing the framework for a live program that could connect players and their coaches. Utilizing Zoom, players can interact and see each other training, see exercises demoed on video or by the coach who leads them through the workout and corrects form as needed.
Players find a space 2-3 metres wide/deep at home – some setup in their basements, in their garage, on their deck, in their kitchen or their living room (note to parents: don’t worry, striking isn’t part of the program!)
“There’s really no excuse now,” Cancura highlights, noting the feedback received has been exceptionally positive thus far. “They’re going every day and they love it.”
Players in Ottawa TFC’s Academy are already active in Virtual Training, while others can join a 12-session program for $65. At the end of each session, players will be red in the face from a challenging workout, and will have developed their technical, physical, tactical, and social/mental skills.
“This is the time that people are trying to get back into it and get ready for the season,” Cancura notes. “We’re probably one of the first out of the gate with this and it’s open to everyone, not just Ottawa TFC players. You could be in Toronto, or wherever theoretically, and follow the program.”
Though there’ll naturally be an impact if the current health measures continue over a prolonged period of time, Cancura believes there could be some positives that emerge from the gloom.
“Mark my words, this is going to change these players if they actually commit to working like this together,” indicates the Czech-born UEFA ‘A’-licenced coach. “In these tough circumstances, they’re responding by rolling up their sleeves and making the best of it. It’s a pretty cool lesson.”
Cancura has been impressed to see the club’s core values shine through during difficult times, and is proud that Ottawa TFC was able to provide an innovative solution to keep players training and connected together.
“It brings you all the stuff that people are missing right now, which is that regular rhythm, the interaction with their teammates and coach, and everything from a normal team training environment,” he underlines. “It allows us to continue to keep the club and the whole community engaged with us. This is big.”
Find out more at: http://ottawatfc.com/virtual-training-sessions