FFF Meets Matt Taberner

07 March 2018 Alan Mockford training, football, footballfitness, strengthtraining

Can you give us some background about yourself regarding your career, experience and development to date?


After completion of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in 2007 I started my professional career at Aston Villa FC as academy sports scientist working across the age groups from under 10s to under 18’s. Prior to the formation of the Elite Player performance plan I became Lead Academy sports scientist primarily with responsibility to oversee the under 21 development squad. During this period, I completed the F.A. Fitness Trainers Award, BWLA, and become certified by the NSCA. In 2013 an opportunity developed to join Everton FC alongside Steve Tashjian working with under 21s and 1st Team. In the summer of 2014, I progressed into the role of Head of Sports Science with a focus upon S&C delivery, monitoring of training/match load and the physical preparation of players returning from injury. Currently speaking I am on the pathway to completing the BASES HPSA and have just began my professional doctorate at Liverpool John Moore’s University.


Why/how did you become involved with the soccer science conference?


Rhys Carr contacted me regarding the conference and the type of event he was trying to put on for practitioners within the industry and others trying to gain experience how theoretical sports science is applied in practice. At the conference I will part of roundtable on ‘training load micro-cycles’ discussing appropriate planning and preparation in football which I’m sure will create some constructive conversations amongst the group and give some great information back to those in attendance.


What do you feel is the biggest training mistake others make in developing 'Football Fitness?'


Treating all individuals the same, although football is a ‘team sport’ not every individual is the same. Individual players have different physical attributes, positional characteristics and requirements, recovery rates, and training age (pitch/gym-base). We have outstanding access to resources, but we have to make use of the objective information alongside communication with both members of our multi-disciplinary team and the players to help provide an appropriate training stimulus around competition in a way to reduce monotony and meet the demands of football in the modern day.


What has been the most effective thing you do in terms of career development/CPD?


Looking outside of ‘football’ – and looking at the physical preparation across other sports and outside the box to where people look in our domain. In the past 4 years I have been across to the US a couple of times to complete a mentorship programme with Eric Cressey (Baseball) on development of power outside the sagittal plane and Joe DeFranco’s (predominantly NFL) physical preparation specialist certification (CPPS) and more recently Andreo Spina’s FRC certification to look a joint by joint movement in other context. This has helped be develop my own philosophy for athletic development rather than just ‘football fitness’.


What area of Football Fitness are you most passionate about and what have you done in regards to this?


Within the last 3 years I have developed a specific interest in the physical preparation of players’ returning from injury and recently submitted a publication to the BJSM on the ‘end stage management of the footballer with an intramuscular hamstring tear’ to help provide practical guidance on rehabilitation of players from severe hamstring injuries, this type of work that clubs’ do behind the scenes seems to be somewhat missing from the literature.


Do you have any advice for young practitioners?


I would say go the extra mile, from students finishing the undergraduate degrees look further than the person next to them and what can they do to make them stand out from the crowd. Coming into shadow in the applied environment is fine but ‘what can you actually take from it’, you learn from doing and sometimes we make mistakes but that’s how we learn and these experiences shape us.


Who has had the biggest influence on your career to date?


Nick Broad – I remember listening to him speak whilst I was a student in Loughborough back in 2007 and I was luckily enough to be invited to Cobham later than year to get an inside look to some of the work Nick was doing at Chelsea at that time. Listening to him speak and seeing some of cutting edge work he had been doing made me realise this was the profession that I wanted to be become involved in. Unfortunately, Nick sadly passed away and I never got the chance to thank him properly.


You can see Matt along with a host of other Elite level practitioners at the 1st Annual Soccer Science Conference on June 4th 2018 at the home of Bristol City, Ashton Gate, details can be found on Soccer Science webpage

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