Athos Spotlight: FC Dallas

Skylar Richards - FC Dallas

With a minute left to play, one of FC Dallas’ most dynamic playmakers tore his right achilles tendon while back peddling on the field. Prior to the injury, this star player had logged his single-season career best in games played, minutes and assists. Being a passionate and competitive athlete, he was eager to find a solution that would help him return to play as soon as possible.

After undergoing surgery to repair his torn achilles, he had Skylar Richards and Athos there to help him return to play in a timely manner.

Skylar Richards

Richards has eleven years in the MLS and six years with FC Dallas under his belt and oversees the physiologic measurement and analysis of all seven of the full-time FC Dallas teams. He’s responsible for the areas of measurement, revitalization, replenishment, maintenance and rehabilitation as the Director of Sports Science and Head Athletic Trainer.

Upon joining FC Dallas, Richards' fifth was the most successful season FC Dallas has had in their 21-years of existence. His advanced measurement strategies have made a huge impact on the team as they strive to keep the highest player availability in the league. The product of the team’s prevention mechanisms and utilization of the latest technologies to maintain health has resulted in winning the Western Conference and Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Applying sports science to training helps Richards better inform the team’s decision makers, which ultimately helps the team win.

Richards’ passion for leveraging sports science data to ensure player availability stems from his background in injury prevention, evaluation and rehabilitation.

“After completing several internships, I realized that our profession was not focused enough on prevention, but was very important in terms of savings and winning. This realization is what propelled me to dive into the sports sciences, specifically in how to increase detection of physiologic breakdown before it affected squad availability,” says Richards.

In his quest for a solution in maintaining player availability, Richards discovered Athos.

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Skylar Richards pictured above training one of FC Dallas' players.

“The physiology of professional athletes is too complex for the naked eye to see everything. Athos allows me to not only track how much work they are doing in real-time, but also track the workload of each muscle group to return from injury as fast as possible,” says Richards.

Return to Play with Athos

When FC Dallas’ impact player needed help from Richards to get back on the field, they worked together to leverage data from the Athos Training System to monitor his progress and form a rehabilitation plan.

Richards had the injured athlete use Athos for corrective work throughout generic rehab and field work.

To start, they needed to establish a baseline; they did this by looking at left/right balance, as well as contribution from each muscle group. After making those assessments, they determined that the healthy side would be the goal for values to hit.

Once that was set, they determined a path for returning to the game. Richards was then able to begin tracking rehabilitation protocols in the gym and movement on the field five days a week, with up to two sessions a day for rehab.

Balance Insights

During this process, Richards monitored stress incurred by the muscles to ensure that balance was not impacted by increases in training load. He also worked on ensuring that training load varied throughout the week without increasing unexpectedly as they enhanced his program. A goal for Richards was making sure that progress was made to regain balance between the injured and healthy leg.

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Online Training Center Training Load chart highlighting balance between left and right legs during lower body movements.

Muscle Contribution Insights

Richards and team monitored the athlete’s banded monster walks, boss kicks, jump and land, single leg squat and overhead squat. At the set level, Richards checked that the athlete was driving his movements using posterior activation. He did this by focusing on increasing the muscle contribution from the glutes while also making sure his glute activations were balanced.

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Online Training Center Training Load chart illustrating muscle breakdown during lower body movements.

For the unweighted corrective movements, Richards would base the number of sets around imbalance and using muscle contribution to assess form. When doing this, Richards aimed for the last set to have the best balance and contribution. If this wasn’t achieved, he would add another set and make modifications until progress was made.

After each day concluded, Richards would analyze the overall training load. This load included field work that was programmed by another coach to make sure the athletes overall training load was not causing an increase in his imbalance and maintaining posterior heavy movement on the field.

Redefining “The Edge”

Richards had great success using Athos during this athlete's rehabilitation, ultimately getting him back on the field faster. As a Director of Sports Science, Richards knows that a primary function of his job is to leverage data to increase player performance- and Athos gives him that edge.

If you're interested in using Athos to empower your athletes check out the Athos Training System.

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