One of Mexico City’s most prestigious and internationally renowned football clubs, Cruz Azul, staked their claim in the top ranks of the Mexican Primera Apertura, with an impressive 2-1 victory over the Monterrey Rayados last Saturday, placing them second in the league. Cruz Azul has taken the league title eight times in the past and is considered to be Mexico’s third most popular team. In preparation for this season, head strength and conditioning coach Sean Buckley has been integrating TRX Training into his programming with the specific goals of developing rotational strength, increasing mobility, overcoming muscle imbalances and preventing injuries.
TRX Training is nothing new to Cruz Azul’s Buckley, who recently took a few minutes to talk with us about how he has incorporated TRX into his training (see video above). Also featured in the video is TRX Master Trainer, Jorge Ivan Maren, a former national team member of the Mexican track team.
Buckley came to Cruz Azul with an extensive background in S&C, after coaching teams from the Chicago Cubs to the Arizona Sandsharks, as well as holding a Master’s in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kansas. He was first introduced to the TRX Suspension Trainer the European National Strength and Conditioning Association Conference and became intimately familiar with it during his personal mentorship at Athlete’s Performance. In his words, “It’s the perfect tool for incorporating mixed modalities right on the field, moving from a TRX power and strength sequence , into cardio work or from performing foot drills to working on flexibility and mobility without having to move the whole team into the gym.
Initially, this portability is what attracted Buckley to the TRX and says that now almost all of his top players own their own so they can travel with them and train anywhere. “Football is a sport that, by nature, develops a lot of muscle imbalances,” Buckley says. Right footed players for example will have more stability on their left leg, which works out well for kicking. However, over time it can lead to injury or just inefficient performance. “By doing things like the TRX Single Leg Squat, TRX Lunge or anything where they have one foot suspended and they have to balance on one leg, we start to work stability on the other leg."
One big area of focus for Buckley is developing rotational speed and power. “If you watch, especially in slow motion, the proper technique of shot on goal, a long pass or a goal keeper punting it out, it’s a lot of rotation. Basically what you’re seeing is: the right knee into the opposite shoulder is where the rotation is happening and based on what we’ve been doing in the past, we’ve been neglecting that quite a bit.” Moving forward, Buckley feels the Rip Trainer will be a vital tool for overcoming this hurdle, because of its emphasis on driving rotational explosiveness through the hips.
Cruz Azul is a massive club with athletes ranging from 13 year olds playing in their first competitive league to top level pros. “A portion of our philosophy is also implementing traditional weightlifting movements [such as] hang cleans, power cleans, snatches, things like that. I think for the younger kids (or deconditioned athletes), using something like the Rip Trainer is going to help them with shoulder mobility and stability, which are the necessary precursors to snatches, push-presses and overhead squats. So instead of just throwing them into something like that, we have a whole battery of movements to help prepare them.” He also feels that correcting imbalances with TRX Training is something that can be implemented preemptively. “The earlier we get them on, the better off they are going to be in 10 years.”
Be sure to watch this weekend as Cruz Azul takes on Santos to defend their second place position in the Primera league.
For more on how soccer pros around the globe continue to gain a competitive advantage with TRX Training, visit our soccer page.