Stars sweat through diagnostic checks

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With a blend of exhaustion and mild theatrics, Tom Starke collapsed to the ground. The FCB keeper stretched out his sweat-soaked 1.94 metre frame on the floor of the multi-purpose sports hall at the Säbener Strasse and broke into a grin. He had just set new top scores on the so-called Speed Court, and was clearly enjoying the fact too. Later, Thomas Müller congratulated Rafinha on his scores before adding with a cheeky smile: "Second! Behind me!"

It was all action on the Speed Court, a grey, 5.5 by 5.5 metre square, in which the players responded to computer prompting to sprint between nine pressure pads. They were able to compare their own scores directly with those of their team-mates thanks to a central monitor, prompting the spate of quips and gags.

Performance diagnostic tests can be fun, it seems, although they are in fact serious and physically demanding exercises. Every player completed nine checks in the sports hall on Thursday: for stamina, balance, 3D vision, functional movement screening, jumping ability and a variety of drills on the Speed Court. The first star started the programme at half past eight in the morning, and the plan was to have the entire squad through by 6 pm. The diagnostics will be completed on Friday with an orthopaedic and general medical examination.

Strengths and weaknesses analysed

"I'm very pleased," said Dr Thomas Broich, head of the Health and Fitness unit at the club, "the players have taken it really well. They're very motivated and focused." Some 30 experts from Munich Technical University and the German Sports University in Cologne supported Broich and the fitness staff in performing the tests.

"Our performance diagnostics have never been as wide in scope as this," Dr Broich told, "the goal is to optimise performance and maintain fitness. We want a precise analysis of every individual player's strengths and weaknesses." The data will already have been processed by Thursday evening, and will be used to draw up an "individual, football-specific training plan" for each player.

"It's a good measure of where the players stand, allowing us to analyse the weaknesses of each individual and then eradicate them," said Sebastian Rode, aware of the reason he was gasping for breath. He spent some 20 minutes going for it on the treadmill with a mask on his face, with the speed increasing every five minutes. "It's not a great deal of fun," admitted Rode. "The tests are certainly very intense. The players will feel it tomorrow," noted Dr Broich. The Speed Court rankings, on the other hand, will be a topic of conversation and banter in the dressing room for a long while yet.

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