Blues recruit US firm to help mitigate injuries

by | 12/11/2015  40 Comments  [Jump to last]
Everton have extended their deal with Kitman Labs in the hope that the data collected by the Silicon Valley-based sports software company can help avoid the spate of injuries that has afflicted the team lately.

In particular, Everton are looking to see how the succession of hamstring and other soft-tissue injuries can be avoided, perhaps by adjusting training techniques in the manner described by James McCarthy recently.

The Irishman explained that by easing up in sessions at Finch Farm and taking the edge off the natural intensity he exhibits in competitive matches, he has been able to stave off the kind of hamstring injuries that disrupted his 2014-15 season.

Stephen Smith, Kitman Labs' Chief Executive, said: What we do as a company is help teams understand the stresses they are placing on their athletes through how they train and play and how they can then respond to that.

We then process the relevant information and allow the coaching staff to change the way they treat their athletes.

Look at the Premier League and the increase in injuries over the last five years. The number of days lost through injury has changed very little, but theres actually been a 19% increase in injuries. Thats huge.

What we aim to do is help with the prevention of injuries by finding out more about injury risks.

Quotes sourced from Liverpool Echo

Reader Comments (40)

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Karl Masters
1 Posted 12/11/2015 at 23:22:26
About time this happened. Let's hope they get to the bottom of it.

In particular, I'd be interested to know if modern pitches and their semi-artificial constitution is encouraging soft tissue strains and pulls.

Eddie Dunn
2 Posted 12/11/2015 at 23:30:50
Yea, Ross was told to just jog about, and the nearest he should get to a tackle was when out fishing with Hibbo.
John Daley
3 Posted 13/11/2015 at 00:25:56
"James McCarthy recently...explained that by easing up in sessions at Finch Farm and taking the edge off the natural intensity he exhibits in competitive matches, he has been able to stave off the kind of hamstring injuries that disrupted his 2014-15 season."

The flipside to that particular benefit may be that 'taking it easy' has (seemingly) had a detrimental effect on his performances thus far this season. He's appeared... subdued... and noticeably less busy, to the extent that Gareth Barry seems to have covered more ground than his much younger midfield partner in the majority of games.

I'm sure someone, somewhere, could hit me with stats to disprove that there has been a significant drop in his work rate, but that's certainly the impression I've been left with as he's struggled to reach anywhere near the level he was performing at throughout his first season.

Kase Chow
4 Posted 13/11/2015 at 01:00:04
Wouldn't it be nice if James McCarthy could create something and show himself as a talented footballer?

Someone that can create and add 5-10 goals a season as well as break up play. That would be amazing.

Michael Williams
5 Posted 13/11/2015 at 01:35:05
Wouldn't it be nice if we had one article that did not have comments ripping the players or coach. Holy cow. This was an article about brining on sport science medical professionals, without mentioning any players, and now it's time to rip McCarthy.

Is the number two favorite for an Everton fan, after rooting for the team, is ripping the team, played, coach or chairman? As an American who decided Everton would be my European team, I wonder if I joined a very negative fan base (for reasons I don't understand), or is it like this every in England?

Someone please explain.

Ben Jones
6 Posted 13/11/2015 at 02:01:21
Kase!! Stop!!

He's a holding mid... Leave him alone!!

Harold Matthews
7 Posted 13/11/2015 at 05:04:53
Browning's out with a knee injury. No set return date. That's serious stuff. No wonder Stones was playing with a knock.
Ernie Baywood
8 Posted 13/11/2015 at 06:36:11
Recruited or extended? Have these guys been on board for a while?

Regarding McCarthy that's quite interesting stuff. I wonder how much this is affecting his performances and whether it's a long-term adjustment or just a short-term measure to get him back on track fitnesswise.

Derek Thomas
9 Posted 13/11/2015 at 06:47:47
These guys have been here since Roberto took over... and our overall fitness/injuries seem to be worse???

Yeah Bryan baby, I know you've hardly played for nearly 2 years and you played the full 120 on Wednesday but if the computer stats says you're good to go, you're good to go... now get 'kin changed.


Peter McHugh
10 Posted 13/11/2015 at 06:54:38
Like John said McCarthy has been a shadow of the player that he's been in the last two seasons. If that's due to the fact his body can't hack it, then we should simply sell.
Adam Luszniak
11 Posted 13/11/2015 at 08:11:53
John Daley, I'm not sure about McCarthy's stats but I can tell you that Barry has been putting a lot of miles in, consistently more than most other players on the pitch.

A Guardian article published in October had Barry 5th in the league for distance covered in miles. Milner topped the list and McCarthy did not feature in the top 10.

Denis Richardson
12 Posted 13/11/2015 at 08:50:00
This article is a bit confusing. The title suggests we're doing something new but the text would suggest we're just extending their contract.

If this firm was being used already and we still have a load of injuries, then what exactly is the point of this story?

How about bringing medical staff in who know what they are doing – a bit like the ones who quit on mass because they disagreed with our manager (but it's okay, he's a trained physio, don't you know...)

Les Martin
13 Posted 13/11/2015 at 09:01:54
At least the problem of injuries has been seen as needing serious investigation, hence this firm's involvement which surely is a good thing.

Don't let's be negative and knock it but evaluate its effectiveness in the long term against the previous situations.

Harold Matthews
14 Posted 13/11/2015 at 09:58:25
McCarthy was brilliant against Sunderland.
Laurie Hartley
15 Posted 13/11/2015 at 11:30:19
The opening paragraph of this article worries me a bit:-

"Everton have extended their deal with Kitman Labs in the hope that the data collected by the Silicon Valley-based sports software company can help avoid the spate of injuries that has afflicted the team lately."

Do they need more time to fix up a problem that started last season:

Saint Rookwood: Knackered

Many years ago a major part of Jimmy Husbands rehabilitation from a serious knee injury (inflicted by Dave Mackay if my memory serves me correctly) was to spend extended periods every day running up and down the stairs at Goodison.

In the St Rockwood article it makes mention of the former fitness coach "wheeling out the stairs".

In my view modern athletes spend far to much time doing weight training on their legs. It's not natural (or balanced).

I'd chuck half those machines out of Finch Farm and have them running up the sand dunes at Southport (in the rain) a couple of times a week.

I would get rid of this software mob and hire a fitness coach that uses the player's own bodyweight to build up the strength and flexibility needed in their leg muscles and ligaments.

As a matter of fact, this bloke would be a lot cheaper and would probably be much more effective than a Silicon Valley based software company. The Chinese after all have been doing this sort of thing for centuries.

Kung Fu Workout

If you watch him to the end you you will have a few laughs. No fancy machines for this kid – just an old car tyre.

Jay Wood
16 Posted 13/11/2015 at 12:39:32
Sorry Laurie @ 13, but I can't agree with your somewhat Luddite view on modern day training methods and a desire to return to running up and down the sand dunes at Southport. There are extremely sophisticated technologies and methods which greatly enhance any serious athlete's fitness and recovery program, whilst reducing the risk of unnecessary injury.

Finch Farm, BTW, actually has the equivalent of Southport sand dunes in the notorious staircase, introduced in 2009 by American fitness coach Steve Tashjian who impressed and was recruited by David Moyes following one of our pre-season tours to the States. The staircase greatly improved player stamina and reduced muscle fatigue and potential injuries. Whether it's still in use under RM, I don't know.

I recall a fascinating video interview with Steve on EvertonTV explaining his methods. At the time he was particularly fulsome in his praise as to the conditioning and fitness levels of one, Joleon Lescott.

Sadly, both Steve and his fellow head of Sports Science and Strength and Conditioning at Everton, Dave Billows, moved on last year, along with the likes of Danny Donachie, head of medical services, when there was a big fall out within the club between the manager and staff over fitness and treatment regimes.

As has been referenced many times before, any number of current players and departed staff have alluded to less intense fitness and training regimes under Roberto and a tendency to ignore medical advice on a player's capacity to play through injury or not.

I welcome helpful data as can be provided by Kitman Labs, but like others I'm a bit bemused that the contract has been extended, which rather implies they have been on board whilst our injuries (and hamstrings in particular) continue to accumulate. Something out of kilter there...

Jay Wood
17 Posted 13/11/2015 at 12:47:43
I forgot to add a link of an interview with Steve and Dave during their time at Everton. There is also a photo and description of the staircase I referred to - they call it the ramp (first club to introduce it in the Premier League).

Everton Workout Regieme

It includes a couple of short interviews with Tim Howard and Sylvan Distin and how they benefit from Steve and Dave's training methods.

Brent Stephens
18 Posted 13/11/2015 at 12:48:57
"In a new twist on the School of Science, the Blues have turned to a US sports software company to prevent players being sidelined."

A new twist? Don't we have enough already?

Patrick Murphy
19 Posted 13/11/2015 at 12:54:55
Jay (#14),

Why would any manager ignore medical advice as to whether a player can play through an injury or not? I can understand that happening for a key match perhaps but on a regular basis it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Surely the players wouldn't be too happy with that kind of decision-making process either, not to mention the Board of Directors who could see their prized assets lose value on and off the pitch.

Jay Wood
20 Posted 13/11/2015 at 13:18:58
Why indeed, Patrick...?

The following is lifted from one of many reports on last year's fall out.

"Danny Donachie resigned as head of medicine in December, while conditioning coach Steve Tashjian left in the summer and another fitness coach, Dave Billows, before that.

"There is nothing new in a manager bringing in his own staff but these three particular members of the backroom staff were regarded by many as the oil in the machine. 'They were very popular with the players, and trusted,' said one dressing room source. 'They would keep the ship sailing.'

"A physiotherapist who had been at Goodison Park for more than a decade, Donachie is the son of former assistant manager Willie and regarded as something of an innovator when it comes to the management of injuries. But it seems he may have clashed with Martinez, himself a qualified physiotherapist, over the treatment of injuries, which may have led to his departure.

"Donachie alluded to as much in an interview he gave to a professional publication last season.

"It's not inconceivable to find yourself in a position where the athlete and the coaching staff are desperate to play in the next game and you know it's not in their best interest,' said Donachie. 'This is when your communication skills come into play, by convincing the management it is the best thing for the player and hence the team and explain and cajole the player into preparing for the more sensible option.' "

The article ended: Donachie is currently on gardening leave but is sure to be in demand.

I did a search and it appears he is not so much in demand, or perhaps has opted for a career change and gone solo. From his Twitter account you can find a very spiritual blog called 'Embodyism', aka Twelfth Man Coaching.

Steve Tashjian returned to work in the States for San Diego Crew in the MLS I believe and Dave Billows is at Newcastle. Considering they were recently labelled the club with the most players out injured, Dave is not perhaps a good advert for the art of Sports Science and Strength and Conditioning!

Steavey Buckley
21 Posted 13/11/2015 at 14:35:10
The amount of injuries can be restricted through proper exercising that strengthens susceptible parts of the body such as the hamstrings. The best training practices can vary from one club to another, with the very best restricting injuries.
Harold Matthews
22 Posted 13/11/2015 at 14:55:38
Sounds like Martinez is in full control of everything including the treatment of injuries.
Helen Mallon
23 Posted 13/11/2015 at 16:18:37
John Daley @3, correct me if I'm wrong but did McCarthy not start the move from our box, sprint 60-odd metres to the edge of the Sunderland box, receive a pass that he passed on, and we scored?

I don't know why he gets it in the neck; he works his socks off.

James Flynn
24 Posted 13/11/2015 at 17:03:36
First season McCarthy is history. His hamstring problems last season settled that.

He'd better develop into an attacking midfielder. Worth zero otherwise.

John Raftery
25 Posted 13/11/2015 at 17:24:23
We are not the only club suffering from a spate of hamstring and calf injuries. Arsenal and Manchester City have been similarly afflicted. In a recent article regarding Arsenal's problems Graeme Souness highlighted the unforgiving nature of modern playing surfaces including those used at the training grounds. Add in the fact that players run 20% further in matches than they did less than a decade ago and it cannot really be a surprise that more of them are breaking down more frequently.

Trying to maintain peak performance for 10 months of the year is just not feasible. I am not sure we need computer software to tell us the blindingly obvious that reducing the workload for players will help stave off injury.

In regard to James McCarthy he is only one more yellow card away from a suspension so he may have an enforced rest imminently.

John Daley
26 Posted 13/11/2015 at 20:58:26
Helen, so what if he did? He was instrumental in one passage of play, in one game, so that now qualifies as him having had a good season thus far?

If that's the case then Vanilla Ice had a fucking cracking career and I won't hear a word said against him. That white boy worked his arse sampling a bit of Bowie and Queen and dancing about with all the bad ass attitude of Arnold from Diff'rent Strokes.

Andy Crooks
27 Posted 13/11/2015 at 21:30:12
Michael (#5), you have not joined a very negative fan base. You have joined a bunch of cynical bastards who support our club no matter what and who demand the very best that our coach and players can give. We expect effort and we can forgive shite when it is the best a player can give.

At that stage we turn to the coach and demand he be sacked. In my view it is fair and proper. Join in.

Laurie Hartley
28 Posted 13/11/2015 at 21:35:12

I do confess to having some sympathies with the Luddites – they thought their livelihood and way of life was being threatened at the beginning of the industrial revolution. From what I understand they are not making much cloth in Manchester these days. But that is another debate.

Regarding the software company – how long have they been under contract and have they had any success so far? It's a fair question.

I did read your link on the Everton workout and found it quite interesting. I like the stair and some much of the training philosophy.

I also noticed Fellaini using his own body weight in one particular exercise and that is the sort of training I am suggesting is more appropriate – some might call it a holistic approach. I also noticed Distin doing pull ups – but does he really need that great weight hanging form his legs?

So to recap – it's the excessive use of weights I don't like and I suspect that is where the current conditioning and strengthening regime is out of kilter.

Laurie Hartley
29 Posted 13/11/2015 at 21:57:14
In my first post I mentioned that the Chinese have have known a lot about leg strengthening, and flexibility for centuries. The Russians are pretty good also.

Not a single pair of lime green Nike runners in site.


Laurie Hartley
30 Posted 13/11/2015 at 22:18:28
And what is more - a few training tips for our lads:

As our dear friend Ken might say - there is something particularly uplifting about all this.

Jay Wood
31 Posted 14/11/2015 at 14:19:36
Laurie, having recently witnessed the world's first Indigenous Olympiad, I too have sympathy for minorities. The impact and the threat to the way of life the advance of the industrial revolution, and the corporate greed that goes with it, cannot be discounted. I was delighted to see that many used the platform of the games to protest against government and corporate policies which are so detrimental to whole cultures and – by extension – the whole global family.

Similarly, I understand what motivated Ned Ludd and his fellow cotton mill workers to resist the introduction of new technology which they saw as a threat to their jobs.

That said, I am no Luddite resistant to any change or advance that can considerable improve the quality of one's life. I am grateful I no longer have to hunt and gather my food daily, gather firewood to prepare said food, but rather can buy in bulk from a single store, refrigerate it and prepare it in a variety of ways with an oven.

As for your comment "they are not making much cloth in Manchester these days", that is indeed true. That industry is virtually extinct in the north of England since Gandhi made his historic visit to the mills 80 years ago, which served to highlight that the conflicts between mill owners and workers were universal, whether they were in northern England or the Indian sub-continent. That has more to do with socio-economics than technical advances. Look in your own wardrobe, Laurie. I guarantee you your clothes are almost universally made in the likes of Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, China, etc.

As ever, the mill owners are solely concerned with productivity, cost savings and turning a profit. If that means relocating to a whole new continent with a cheaper labour force and ineffective labour laws, so be it. Maintaining traditional communities is not part of their remit, although some Quaker owners of a century ago were more conscientious of their social responsibilities to their workers beyond the actual working shift. But, as you say, that is another debate, probably for another website...

Back to the matter at hand... I also expressed some doubts about the efficacy of the software company, whilst balancing that by saying I would welcome any data that informs us how to improve player fitness and performance.

I'm glad you found the linked article interesting. I don't think either of us can condemn or support outright the training regime at Everton because, quite frankly, neither of us have a clue as to what they do. We can only feed on snippets and attempt to draw conclusions.

What is indisputable is there has been many changes to the long standing medical and fitness teams and players and staff alike have spoken openly about less intense training sessions, with greater emphasis on gaining fitness with more ball work (comments attributed to Martinez himself).

I enjoyed your links by the way and am now hunting for a used tyre to introduce into my own daily workout routine!

I'm not sure I should thank you for the Cossack videos, however, as I now have a mental image of seeing Lennon and Deulofeu, flying down the wings in a crouched position, arms folded, rapidly kicking their legs, whilst Tim Howard refines his star jump by leaping shoulder high and straightening his legs to touch his toes 2 meters off the ground!

David Ellis
32 Posted 15/11/2015 at 01:14:27
If Ned Ludd had his way, then clothes would be 100 times more expensive than they are now.
Kieran Kinsella
33 Posted 15/11/2015 at 01:36:12
Michael (#5), it's not a matter of the wrong team, it's a difference in culture. I live in Kansas among fans who parade around in outfits of the ever failing Chiefs, and the recently successful Royals and Sporting KC. So I've seen these fans dealing with success and failure.

Success is happiness and smiles and a reason for a BBQ rather like 4 July. Failure is a shrug of the shoulders and a "well my fantasy team did well."

Football in England is different. It elicits real emotions: joy, despair, anger. We think about it non-stop. We can't face work when our team fails, we never ever forget the moments our team wins. It's an obsession, a sickness maybe, it's like being part of a dysfunctional family.

It's not in anyway shape or form like US sports. And we don't pick and choose teams based on the grumpiness of fellow fans. Maybe English football is not for you mate.

Eric Myles
34 Posted 15/11/2015 at 03:43:59
Jay (#16), maybe Moyes took his staircase with him to Carrington – as a result of which, Van Persie described his training as using 'dinosaur methods'?
Laurie Hartley
35 Posted 15/11/2015 at 09:15:40
Dave (#32) – do you really believe that?

Eric (#34) – maybe Moyes did, but could it be that Van Persie didn't like his methods because they were more demanding than those he had been used to with Arsene Wenger? I have to say I haven't heard too many people putting Moyes down for the fitness of his players. Some have even suggested that the fitness levels of his teams were the reason why they usually came good after the Christmas break and finished the season strongly.

Jay (31) – you have touched on matters much more important than pulled hamstrings.

Having read your last post, I suspect our respective world views are not dissimilar. I also suspect you know I am not a Luddite – but I do sympathise with and understand the fear of anyone who's livelihood is threatened. For most folk, work is the only way of achieving a decent standard of living. My comment about cloth and Manchester was a bit trite and for that I apologise. But back to the hamstrings.

I concur that technology is of great benefit in measuring performance, flexibility and fitness levels. It is how you improve those levels that is at the crux of the matter.

At the risk of labouring the issue, my question is this: Given that our players are twanging their hamstrings on a regular basis, is it because the current training methods are the root cause of the problem?

I suspect they are... and, if so, it has to do with the use of weights and machines as a source of artificial resistance.

Please consider this statement - "Running up sand dunes is a highly demanding, low impact, weight bearing, aerobic exercise which is usually carried out in the fresh air."

The Cossacks use the Lennon / Deulofeu method :) while at Finch Farm they have probably got one of those machines with a seat that they sit on with weights that they push outwards and upwards against to build up the strength of their leg muscles. I am suggesting that the Cossack's training method is much closer to the conditions the players are likely to encounter "on the pitch".

Of course dancers get injured too. In the St Rockwood thread, I made mention of Moshe Feldenkrais's work on stretching, body mechanics, learning and the Human Motor Cortex – "Awareness Through Movement".

Many dancers use his stretching techniques which are very different from those employed by most athletes and martial artists. Well worth a read if you are interested in that sort of thing with simple exercises that anyone can try without risking injury.

Regarding the tyre – the secret is in its "springiness" – not too much, not too little.

Steve Brown
36 Posted 15/11/2015 at 10:32:29
Daily Mail has an article today laying out of the cost of injuries last season, based on a UEFA recognised injury formula. Our bill for non-available players was £19.4m, the third worst in the league.

I am no expert, but my guess is that rightly or wrongly Donnachie and his team took the blame for that and departed in 2014. Also why we have a less physically strenuous conditioning regime now?

Steve Brown
37 Posted 15/11/2015 at 10:35:17
Interestingly, Chelsea had the lowest injury bill but that did not stop Mourinho clashing with them and making them the scapegoat this season. The medical team would be relatively easy targets for an under-pressure manager.
Jim Hardin
38 Posted 15/11/2015 at 16:31:09

As a fellow American, I agree with you that the posters on here are negative. Perhaps because if Everton does well they are too drunken to tap a keyboard? Kieren's view and lack of understanding of American sports is typical on here (He should visit and live in an SEC college town through one football season to see true insanity among fans).

There are other more positive blogs regarding Everton, but this by far has the most irritating, amusing, insightful, and intelligent mix of comments. Despite the comments on here and disagreements, I would wager most, myself included, would happily buy anyone else on here a pint should they ever have that opportunity. We take the good with the bad and remember that at the end of the day it is all support for Everton. COYB.

David Ellis
39 Posted 17/11/2015 at 08:37:50
Laurie Hartley at #36 - yes I do believe that clothes would be more expensive if we banned all technology from the spinning jenny onwards (globally). How could it be otherwise? Whether it would be a factor of a 100 I don't know but it would be many many times more expensive. Effectively a tax on all consumers to maintain the way of life of textile workers in the late 1700s.

For the same reason a tax on imports is not a tax on foreigners - its a tax on domestic consumers to subisdise domestic producers. Not usually a good way to spend tax payer's money.

Laurie Hartley
40 Posted 18/11/2015 at 20:38:47
Dave it was the factor of 100 that I was questioning. It seemed a bit over the top. I had a mental image of a $500 pair of socks.

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