Question: I’m in my off season; what should I be doing to prepare for the spring season?
There are few things to keep in mind as you prepare for a new season. First, it’s always important to enter a season healthy and with a solid base of fitness. As always, maintaining a healthy diet and getting an appropriate amount of sleep are important, and you’ll want to prepare your body for the increasingly intensive activity during the first weeks of your team’s training. Second, part of your physical preparation should involve a ball. While many players find that a short break helps them recover physically and mentally following a season, it’s important for your long-term technical development to touch a ball regularly. Even 15 minutes of work with a ball 2 or 3 times a week will help you improve, though you may find that 30 minutes helps more. Third, I think it’s helpful to watch top players and teams play. It’s fun to have favorite players and a team to follow, and you can learn so much by paying attention to how your favorite player uses the ball and what they do when they are off the ball. Finally, understand that if you want to be a top player, there’s no substitute for hard work and self-discipline. One morning last summer, before our campers at Landon School began arriving for our 8 am session, I noticed a young woman playing with a ball on our lower field. She was training by herself, running through a series of 1v1 moves and then finishing on an empty net. She was obviously skillful, moving with the ball fluidly and striking the ball cleanly, with power and accuracy. But her intensity is what truly impressed me. Every thing she did was at full speed – her moves and cuts were sharp, she accelerated when changing directions, and she sprinted to collect the balls after each set. When she finished her workout, she came over to return a few balls she had borrowed. She introduced herself and said that she was a midfielder for her college team, and then ran off to get ready for summer internship, her grey Stanford t-shirt soaking with sweat. Billy Gordon
, Coach, Landon School, No 1 Soccer Camp Staff since 1996. Regional Director for No. 1 Soccer Camps at our Landon School – Bethesda, MD location.
As an athlete, it is important to maintain a level of fitness year round that will allow you to keep your body and mind fit regardless of the time of year. This will allow you easily move into the season with little or no drop off. This can be accomplished in a few ways. First is eating habits, make sure you are eating the correct foods that allow your body to maintain form and help with the rebuilding process when working out. Second is a routine workout that allows your body and mind to stay share. It is a good idea to maybe take this time to do some cross training such as; other sports, running, cross fit, or weight lifting. It does not have to be soccer related, but still keeping in touch with it is good as well. And lastly, Sleeping habits. Just because you’re not in season does not mean you should change off of your bodies need for this. A good night sleep is always a need for an athlete’s body. John Gregg, Former General Manager USL PRO Harrisburg City Islanders, No 1 Soccer Camp Staff since 1990. Regional Director for No. 1 Soccer Camps at our Lebanon Valley College – Hershey PA
Coach Andrulis: This is a very popular question from our young players who are eager to improve. We are all looking for the same thing: what can we do during our non competitive months to best prepare ourselves for break out seasons and to re write our personal record books? Players who desire to play at the highest levels are often told that there is no off season. Even the casual club player knows that playing the game year round is essential to maintaining fitness and touch. I recommend four things to focus on during your off season:
- Rest and Recovery: take care of any injuries or soreness. Do what you can to be healthy when your break is over. You may also need a mental break to be refreshed and ready to go again.
- Work on your aerobic base. Often team fitness doesn’t give you the overall base you need to excel over a long season. Go for some longer jogs, do some interval training or some cross training like basketball or skiing, be active but do something you enjoy.
- Pick a technical skill that needs a little work and sharpen it up, juggle the ball a couple of times a week to improve your touch. Watch Ronaldo on youtube and learn one of his tricks! How fun would that be?
- Find a few friends and play pickup, no coaches no restrictions, just play for the fun of it.
Greg Andrulis, Head Coach, George Mason University, Former Coach, MLS Columbus Crew. No.1 Soccer Camps Staff since 1988. Regional Director for No. 1 Soccer Camps at our Urbana University – Urbana, OH, Salisbury School – Salisbury, MD, Western Connecticut State University – Danbury, CT locations.