MCKINNEY, Texas (June 21, 2012) – A contingent of players from one of the world’s best professional soccer leagues is in McKinney this week training with Olympic legend Michael Johnson in preparation for the upcoming English Soccer League season.
The players are hoping the training techniques that led to four Olympic gold medals and eight world championships for Johnson will help them take their game to the next level.
“Even though these are world-class athletes, most of them have never trained for power so this is a new experience for them,” said Johnson. “We’re helping them build strength and power and then are showing them how to use it to be faster and more agile.”
The English Soccer League players say that Johnson and his cadre of coaches and trainers at the Michael Johnson Performance Center have opened their eyes to new approaches to training and performance improvement.
“I’ve never done strength or weight training so this is completely different,” said Marko Mitrovic, a former Chelsea forward who is now a free agent. “I’ve been here for four weeks and the improvement in my speed and agility has been incredible. It will help every part of my game.”
Matty James, a former Manchester United midfielder who was recently dealt to the Leicester City Football Club, agrees.
“They are taking it to a new level here,” James said. “What we’ve been able to accomplish is exciting.”
James added that it is Johnson’s reputation for training and fitness innovation that brought the English league players to Texas.
“Some of the things they have us do seem odd, but they work. The results are definitely there.”
Says Johnson: “We’re here to help them get everything they can out of their bodies and minds.”
In addition to drills and exercises designed to build speed, explosiveness and
agility, are also work on their mental game.
They wore strobe glass while running through a number of soccer drills on Thursday. The glasses use flashing lights to disrupt the players’ visual acuity, forcing them to focus harder on the ball.
“We’re disrupting their sense of sight to make them really have to focus to do what usually is easy for them,” Johnson said. “It’s like running in ankle weights. When you finally take them (the glasses) off, the game slows down for them because they’ve tapped into a new level of concentration.”