The MK Dons squad returned to Stadium MK on Thursday to begin their pre-season programme.
Paul Tisdale’s side underwent a battery of tests and screenings in preparation for the first session on grass, which will take place on Friday at Woughton on the Green.
Head of Sports Medicine and Science Simon Crampton told mkdons.com: “This is a very important day for us. The day went smoothly and we’re pleased where everybody is at this point.
“There has been a real buzz around the place today. We’re all looking forward to getting the season up and running.”
Head of Sports Medicine and Science Simon Crampton talked mkdons.com through the tests:
“Cardiac screening is extremely important when dealing with professional athletes. Every signed footballer will have a cardiac screen at 16, 18 and 20 as part of The FA screening programme. We like to continue that process so that all our players have a screening every two years. We also ensure there is one done when a player signs for us if this isn’t up-to-date.
“The cardiac screenings consists of an ECG, which looks at the electrics of the heart, and an echocardiogram, which looks at the structure and plumbing of the heart.
“We use a company called Cardiac Direct, who are fantastic. They came to us for today but if we ever need a new signing to have a screening we are able to send them down to their base in London. We are very grateful for them giving up their time today to help us.”
Concussion Baseline tests
“Head injuries are very topical at the moment. Unfortunately, they do occur in physical sport and it’s important that they are correctly managed.
“If anyone is to suffer a head injury, they have to follow a strict ‘Return to Play’ criteria. Part of that criteria is a SCAT (Sport Concussion Assessment Tool) assessment, and another part is a cognitive assessment which is looking at people’s cognitive skills - how well they can process and retain information.
“The SCAT was carried out by the doctor and the cognitive assessment utilises a computer programme. We also use tests to examine balance and co-ordination as part of this process. These assessments give us baseline information so that if anybody was to suffer a head injury then we know how their brain functions normally and can then compare against this. This helps guide our Return to Play criteria.”
Asymmetry and Function tests
“ Asymmetry tests utilise jump data captured on specific scientific equipment. This provides us information on power outputs, while they also let us compare left versus right, which helps to guide players individual programmes and the injury risk reduction work that we do. This data also provides baseline information used to monitor progress and set targets if a player was injured.
“Tom Bromley, our Lead Strength and Power Coach, set this up for us. This year we’ve been fortunate enough to have Chris Brewer and his team from the University of Middlesex join us. Chris is a well-respected researcher in the field of asymmetries and we are very grateful for his help. Chris will also use the data for his research- it’s great for us to get involved which these projects and help to shape the future of sports science and medicine.”
“We also conduct functional testing too where we look at the players from an endurance perspective and how they move. We film this process and, again, this provides us with information to help shape their gym-based programmes.”
"Our Academy physiotherapist Tom Gittoes and our Academy Sports Therapist Nathan Benjamin-Smith helped us with this one. We also had students in from four different universities - it’s always great to help in the development of the future therapists and scientists.
“With this, we look at range of movement around the key joints and the strength of specific muscle groups. This gives us baseline data on each player - if they were to get injured then we know what their baseline is. We can also look to see if there are any potential risk factors. While we can’t completely prevent injury, there might be something we can do to reduce the risk.”
“This is the one that some players fear the most! Anthropometrics relates to a players’ weight, height and body composition. Our Academy Sports Scientist Dominic Blossom worked on this one for us.
“We take a photo of all the players to give us a visual of how they look - we can compare this to how they looked at the end of last season, this part is very subjective but provides a snapshot. We then take their heights and weights, looking for any unexplained increases and decreases - this is particularly important for the younger players who are still growing, this helps to shape how we train them. We then come on to our skin-fold testing where we use skin-fold callipers to test eight different points of the body.
“We repeat all these tests throughout the pre-season programme because it will give us indications on where the players are.”
The hard work will continue throughout the next five weeks and included in the schedule is a six-day training camp in Murcia, Spain. MK Dons will fly out to their training base in southeastern city of Spain on Sunday 15th July, returning on the morning of Saturday 21st July.
At this stage, no friendly matches have been confirmed for the trip. In the event that matches are scheduled, there is no guarantee they will be open to the public. mkdons.com will keep supporters updated over the coming days.
Paul Tisdale’s side will play five friendlies on home soil ahead of the Sky Bet League Two opener away at Oldham Athletic, starting with a trip to Newport Pagnell Town on Saturday 7th July - click HERE for a full list of friendlies!
mkdons.com and iFollow MK Dons will have extensive coverage throughout pre-season while the Club’s social media platforms will also keep you up-to-date over the next five weeks - click HERE to follow the Dons on all the vital platforms!
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