Chester FC: A Consult by KPI Case Study

We don’t just work with individual athletes. Our consultancy services for sports organisations are widespread and form a robust support network for those looking to shape their testing and training philosophies and build a sustainable, winning culture.

Commencing in June 2022, Chester F.C. scouted us as their very own Physical Performance Team to support them for the 2022-2023 season. After working closely with one or two of their players in the 2021-2022 Off-Season, we shook hands with newly appointed Manager, Calum McIntyre, and the relationship began.

Prior to us joining the Seals, the National League North side had experienced a difficult few years with various managerial changes and lacked a stable sports science team to support the players on a consistent basis.

It was agreed that our service for the club would be to support them on a part-time basis, to function within their hybrid training model with both in-person and remote coaching and advisory services. Key responsibilities of ours include athlete profiling, gym-based programme design and prescription, face-to-face coaching at team-training sessions, advisory support for rehabilitating athletes and other general sports science areas including load monitoring, recovery techniques and more!

The Process

1. Discovery

We had the full squad at the APC for pre-season gym testing in July 2022 and also completed field based testing. The deliverables included after the Athlete Profiling System day for the coaching, medical and playing staff at the club included comprehensive team reports to detail generalised strengths and limitations for the team in comparison to normative data sets, individual player report cards and injury risk recommendations. What did we test?

Range of motion

  • Ankle/calf
  • Hamstring
  • Quad / hip flexor
  • Adductor
  • Asymmetries of all the above

Movement control

  • Overhead squat
  • Lunge
  • Switch
  • Hinge
  • Cossack squat
  • Single leg squat
  • Drop landing
  • Lateral hop

Power

  • Vertical jump
  • Vertical jump single leg
  • Vertical drop jump
  • Horizontal jump
  • Lateral jump

Strength

  • Hip extension strength (hams dominant)
  • Hip extension strength (glute dominant)

Speed (90% Max sprint speed only)

  • Video analysis of technique
  • No speed based measure
  • Qualitative and quantitative data provided (angles and coaches eye)
  • Max velocity running mechanics only
  • Hip lock height, switch speed, stiffness, number of steps, attack angle, body angle and more were used in analysis.

Agility (45 and 180 degree turns)

  • Video analysis of technique 
  • No speed based measure
  • Qualitative and quantitative data provided (angles and coaches eye)
  • Approach steps, turn steps, exit steps
  • Body angle, turn speed and strength, trunk integration, projection, foot placement, attack angle etc were all used in analysis

Cardiovascular fitness

  • Yoyo IR2 max test

Pre- and early-season GPS metrics

Due to the unsuitability of recording maximum sprint speed markers in the early weeks of pre-season, one of our tasks towards the end of pre-season was to administer specific sprint drills within a training session to facilitate the capture of maximum sprint speed performance values for each player.

As we know, speed kills in modern day professional football, so identifying those at each end of the scale was an essential requirement for us to modify training programmes for each individual where necessary.

6 of 9 athletes who were injured for more than 10 days in the first quarter of the season were in the bottom 25th percentile of the teams physical profiling leaderboard.

Following discovery, it was time for training intervention building

2. Planning

Following discovery, it was time for training intervention building. Testing data was utilised to provide team and individual feedback for the club. Strengths and weaknesses were identified so that team and individual training programmes were built to lean on:

(a) physical requirements of football

(b) tactical requirements of the team

(c) general trends for the whole team

(d) individual deficiencies of each individual

Our philosophy is to reverse weaknesses and bolster strengths for athletes.

3. Execution

From July 2022 to January 2023 we commenced our training intervention provision based on our learnings from the previous 2 stages. This included:

Service programme

Range of motion

  • Foam rolling
  • Dynamic stretching
  • Long-length isometrics

Movement control

  • Muscle recruitment
  • Core stability
  • Fundamental movement
  • Stability

This is designed to be a daily preparation, recovery and optimisation programme. With a “pick and mix” function, each athlete was required to complete the service programme and selectively prioritise exercises most suitable for them based on their individual feedback reports that were provided for them.

This programme has a heavy injury prevention programme and was communicated as a programme to optimise the way that each player's bodies would move and perform on the pitch, so subsequently impact on the training adaptations they experience from the pitch-based work they complete.

Strength programme

  • Lower-limb
  • Via the KPI app
  • 3 options (beginner, intermediate, advanced)

Power programme

  • Lower-limb
  • Via the KPI app
  • 3 options (beginner, intermediate, advanced)

On-field movement skills training (face to face) 

  • Speed movement skills
  • Agility movement skills
  • Warm up (10-min), movement skills session w/ whole team (20-min)

Individualisation techniques

Each player got an individual physical profile card detailing their strengths and weaknesses with directions on what to prioritise in each programme

4. Reporting

In December 2022, we completed mid-season testing.

All of the pre-season testing, only gym-based nothing pitch based. Team-based comparisons were made to pre-season.

Indications of new player recruits and how they impact the current squad from a physical performance perspective were also provided in separate reports to assist with talent identification.

Team average results:

Range of motion - 9% improvement

Movement control - 10% improvement

Power - 13% improvement

Strength - 17% improvement

June 2022 Testing Results

December 2022 Testing Results

Mid-season GPS metrics - October 2022 to January 2023

Max sprint speed captured in training and matches

7 of 11 hit higher max sprint speed in the mid-season period on GPS compared to the pre- and early-season period

Following on from the mid-season testing, the team at KPI then made some important amendments to Chester’s training programmes to ensure that the team were on the right track for the remainder of the season! All programmes were tweaked and prescription was altered based on new strengths and weaknesses to suit the new requirements for each player in the team.

Insights

Upon close of the season, Chester found themselves finishing in third place with 84 points, their highest placing for 10 seasons and narrowly missing out of play-off promotion, losing in their semi-final fixture. The team displayed an impressive away unbeaten record of 21 games. Additionally, they had the best defence in league, Calum McIntyre won manager of the season and 3 players made team of the season. A truly record breaking season.

“Upon being appointed in May, a key long-term aim was to put in place a clear professional structure around the football department with all aspects of performance prioritised appropriately. Working with Tom and KPI is a huge coup for a club at our level. His subject knowledge, his experience and delivery are first class and will be hugely beneficial over a period of time. Tom acts as a link between our medical department and coaching staff as we manage physical outputs, training loads and any return to play for injured players. I am so pleased that we now have this in place. Tom is the right character with a personality built around success. This is something we will really see the benefits from as the season goes on.”

Callum McIntyre - Chester FC Manager

Ongoing support

Now in our second year, we continue our support for Chester, with pre-season profiling taking place in July 2023. We continue to coach them remotely via our app, and supporting small groups of the team who come to us for extra training in the APC. We also go to the training ground to support face to face coaching and now work online with the CFC Girls Academy too. If you are interested in how we can help your team or organisation then get in touch and let’s get started!

Videos

Check out our work in action on the KPI Instagram page

Movement skills in warm up

Gym based training

More movement skills

Pre-season testing

Game speed drill

Mid season testing

Sprint profiling

Pre-season testing 2023

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