Last week, I had interviewed a couple collegiate strength coaches about their thoughts of in-season training. I’m a big advocate of it, but the problem seems to be dedicating the time to doing it.

One of the strength coaches I reached out to had a great response to my question on in-season training. I work with a lot of soccer players so I really appreciated his response on the topic.

Sean Muldoon is a sport performance coach at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. He works with the men’s soccer team there. Here was his response to my question about training soccer players in-season and the effect of playing soccer year round with no plan for athletic development:

“With regards to in-season lifting, that’s a topic that’s never easy with players/coaches so there will always be some kind of pushback. Due to the time constraints of the NCAA season, once games start we don’t have mandatory team lifts. That being said, a good majority, roughly half the team will still come in on their own for optional lifts. Mostly the defenders, keepers, forwards, and some of the wide midfielders. The actual amount were doing is pretty minimal, like 30-45 minutes 1-2 days a week depending on our game schedule. It’s one of those things where you have to know the schedule so you can get after it on the easier weeks and then back off on the weeks of 2 games and/or lots of travel. Being thoughtful on the volume of the lifts, more hypertrophy for upper, more strength for lower, and then just knowing the athlete makes a big difference. There really is no right answer though.

Scientifically it makes sense to lift 1-2 times a week in season with regards to injury prevention, mass maintenance, strength maintenance, and of course the “look good play good” mentality.

I think the biggest thing is getting the players into the routine so they are comfortable feeling uncomfortable. That way if they aren’t feel 100 % perfect, which they never will, it’s not as big of deal.

Unfortunately it is built into the soccer culture to just play games all year round. It’s not good for the body and honestly I don’t think it’s good for the skill development either. As you said, there needs to be a time when physical development is the priority. It should never be all or none but more like a series of light dimmers. In certain times physical development is higher, even though skill acquisition is still happening and then in other ties physical is a much lower priority while tactics or technical skills are more heavily focused.”

Thanks a lot Sean for the response. I especially like his last paragraph where he is concerned about the year round soccer playing, and this is at the collegiate level. What about the younger athletes that are just playing soccer year round? What do you think is happening to them from an athletic/physical stand point?

Athletic development must be considered by the parents and/or soccer coaches for their athletes. It can’t just be soccer, soccer, soccer 24/7. Don’t just herd these kids through the program hoping they won’t get injured until they graduate and move on to college or quit.

These aren’t the US world team players here. Allow them to train on their athletic skills at an age where they are still growing and maturing so they can be the best athletes possible.

Feel free to leave any comments below in the comments box.

Photo courtesy of See-Ming Lee on Flickr: