‘Getting fit and keeping them fit’ is the motto of Excelsior Rotterdam


Mario Meijer (57 years old) is a caregiver/recovery trainer at Excelsior Rotterdam. With a wealth of experience and more than 26 years of loyal service, Mario is now a fixed value at the club. This is not strange in the football world, but it is always special. Mario: “I have been working for this club for more than 26 years now. Then you have experienced all the ups and downs. I’m part of the furniture by now, but you also have to move with the times. JOHAN is also part of that.” We were allowed to ask Mario a number of questions about the working method at Excelsior and the handling of GPS data from the JOHAN Sports GPS system.

How did you end up at Excelsior Rotterdam?

“I have known the club from an early age. I went through the entire youth academy of Excelsior and played for a number of years with the U23 team. After that I even trained with the first team for a few months, but it never came to an official debut in Excelsior 1.

Then I ended up in amateur football. I myself played football at amateur clubs such as Xerxes, Capelle and DCV. In the meantime I have done a sports massage course, obtained the necessary recovery / condition courses and my UEFA C and B and I have been head coach at CKC from Rotterdam for years.

I’ve always kept in touch with Excelsior, because you’ve been around for such a long time. It was around 1994 that Gertjan Goudswaard (sports doctor) was doing an internship at Excelsior at the time and that they were looking for a caregiver/recovery trainer. I did that for a year. The following year an official partnership was started with Feyenoord and from that moment on they needed someone full-time at the first team of Excelsior. At the time I still had a job as a financial employee at KPN. Everyone thought: Mario, what are you doing? You are just starting your career. But I’ve never regretted my decision and I’m still really enjoying it.”

What exactly does your role entail within the staff?

“As a recovery coach, I am responsible for the recovery of the players after matches. This means that after the matches I offer recovery training to players to recover as quickly as possible from the effort made. I do this in collaboration with our fitness trainer. I also offer separate recovery training for players who are returning from the injury. Maurice de Groot (physiotherapist) takes care of the first treatments and after that, I often take over to schedule more football-specific recovery training. We also do this on the basis of JOHAN’s GPS data.

In addition, I ensure that all GPS and heart rate data is collected properly. We pay extra attention, especially during the matches and the football conditional sessions. We work with certain goals and if the players don’t achieve them, extra sprints are done. We check the players’ status every day and make a weekly plan to advise the technical staff. We do this together with our exercise physiologist.

Offer recovery training to players after matches to get fit as quickly as possible. In collaboration with our fitness trainer. Also, guys coming back from injury. Maurice de Groot first treatments and then I often take over to schedule more specific recovery training sessions. We also do this on the basis of the data.

How long has Excelsior Rotterdam been working with GPS data?

“In the beginning we only worked with heart rate sensors to monitor the heart rate of the players. We have been working with the JOHAN Sports GPS Tracking system since the 2016/2017 season. First with the V4 GPS tracking system and since last summer we have switched to the new V6 tracking system including the JOHAN Live app.”


What analyzes do you make on a daily/weekly basis with the JOHAN GPS system?

“Together with our exercise physiologist, we make an AC Work ratio. We do this for the team and individually per player on total distances, sprint distances, hi-intensity sprints, number of sprints, accelerations and decelerations. Periodization is also checked daily. Sometimes we play a match on Friday and we don’t have a new match until ten days later. Another week it is again Monday and Friday a match. Can we train harder in the meantime or should we schedule a quiet training? It is therefore important to us that they strike a perfect balance between overtraining and undertraining.”

How do you do that with the substitutes?

“We mainly keep the players who don’t play a (complete) match fit by means of practice matches or extra training. Sometimes our substitutes participate in the U21 and if that is not possible we arrange practice matches to achieve a good load. Recently we arranged a practice match against Sparta Rotterdam. They are close by, so that is easy.”

How does Excelsior Rotterdam view the live data in the JOHAN Live app?

“In VCT training, we mainly look at sprint distances above 20 km/h and hi-intensity sprint distances (above 25 km/h). We have set goals for each training and we want this to be achieved per training. This is also seen from the point of view of injury risks and is scientifically substantiated. In competitions we look more at HR, sprints, number of sprints, hi intensity sprints, max speed. Then we check that no crazy things happen or that players do not reach high values ​​in one go. For example, a while ago we had a new boy from the transfer window who joined the selection. The first game he played he had a very difficult time and we saw this reflected in JOHAN’s live app. Then we also indicated in the break: keep in mind that he cannot keep up with this.

We also closely monitor the heart rate and recovery of the players during exercises. Some people who come back after a period of illness (corona) or a muscle injury. What was his maximum speed before his injury and did he achieve this? How has his recovery been this workout? Based on that, we can determine whether someone can return to group training.”

What do you think is important when it comes to monitoring the fitness of players?

“Ultimately, the goal is for a player to be able to ‘go’ 150% on his position. That they can always keep making 90 minutes + their meters, without taking irresponsible risks and increasing the chance of players getting injured. That’s something we definitely don’t want. Getting fit and keeping fit is our motto here. Data has of course become super important in monitoring players properly and in order to be able to intervene or stimulate at the right time. JOHAN Sports is an important partner in this.”

We wish Excelsior Rotterdam good luck and safe (sprint) meters with the second half of the competition!

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