We are smack dab in the middle of soccer season (sorry I’m old school and don’t consider the spring part of a soccer season). Most of these athletes are playing close to 5-7 days a week. So, if you are playing 7 days a week, then YES, you guessed it, you do not have a rest day.
When I first started performance training, one of my first stud athletes was a soccer player who was state player of the year. Lindsey Williams was his name (giving you some props Lindsey) and he spoiled me for all other soccer players.
I did everything with him to get him prepped for his first year in college. Conditioning, strength, speed, and quickness. The guy was incredibly skilled at soccer and had a motor that wouldn’t stop. He WANTED to work hard and embraced everything I threw at him. EVERYTHING.
I quickly learned that not all soccer players have the same mentality, especially when it comes to strength training. Put a kettlebell next to a soccer player and most have an allergic reaction to it.
“OMG, what is that!?? What are you going to make me do with it?”– said in a Kevin Hart mocking a whiny person voice.
I’ve never heard so many excuses come flying at me as to why they can’t touch a weight. Look, we aren’t making you into a linebacker here so relax.
If I was performance training a soccer athlete right now in the middle of the season, I would be doing several things with him or her (going to use HIM for simplicity purposes, but this applies to the ladies as well). I’m also going to assume that by some heavenly miracle they had been training with me for a few months prior to the season starting so they had a base to begin with.
- Strength Training Weekly – Like I said, I’m not putting massive size on these kids, but if you stop lifting weights you lose a little bit of strength each week that you worked so hard to add. After 4 weeks, it drops like a rock. Why work so hard to get stronger and then let it flitter away in the middle to late part of your season when it matters the most? I would have them do low volume workouts once a week for sure, maybe twice to maintain that strength.
- Active Recovery Would Be A Must – Once again, these kids are going hard all week. It ain’t stopping anytime soon (yes I said “ain’t”). Not only will the strength training help maintain the strength, but it will reduce the chance for injuries. If they do get injured, it will help them recover faster. Foam roller, breathing resets, stretching (the right way), and ice baths all would be part of the arsenal to get the athlete recovering as quickly as possible from competition and getting the body prepared for the next day.
- Eating Better – If you serve doughnuts and pizza for a pre-game meal, you should be kicked in the groin. Taken out back and kicked in the groin. You want them to recover from soreness? You want them to have energy? Get them eating better not just before games, but ALL season. What are they eating after practice? After games? Before bed? At breakfast? During school? You know what foods they SHOULD NOT eat. Don’t feed it to them. You think food isn’t that big of a deal. Let me play your team after having a burger, fries, and a shake. I’ll feed my team fruit, a whole grain bagel with peanut butter and let’s see which team looks fresher and better.
- Substitute Practice Time For Working Out Time – You have coaches that say we need the entire 2 hours of practice on soccer. Hogwash! If you are scheduled to have a two hour practice, don’t try to find another 30 minutes to make them work out. They need that for recovery. Make one or two of your weekly practices an hour and a half and dedicate 30 minutes to working out and keep your total 2 hour practice time. I guarantee your team will be better ready to play each game and practice. They’ll be stronger, quicker, and fitter than your opponent. Give me a soccer coach that has the guts to do that with me and I’ll produce you an athletic soccer team.