As we get closer to March, youth soccer preseason closely approaches. Preseason is usually only 2-4 weeks. This is not much time to get tactically and technically ready and most importantly in the right physical condition to play. I will be covering the youth soccer conditioning in this post. There are a few key things to remember when it comes to youth soccer preseason training. First, try to practice in a certain order. This way you always have a routine, and repetition is a great way to train athletes . To get the most out of each youth soccer practice and properly prepare for games, I suggest this routine outline:
- Soccer Dynamic warm-up: Do 5-15 minutes of movement that is similar to movements they will be doing in practice and on the field. Jogging, backward jogging, jumping, cutting, and twisting are some examples of good warm-up movements. Start slow and gradually progress to game speeds.
- Soccer Dynamic stretching: Do 5 minutes of dynamic stretching. Static stretching (holding stretches for long periods of time) is not good to do before workouts; this should be saved for afterwards. Dynamic stretches are stretches that are similar to the movements they will be doing during their workout. Leg swings, arm circles, side bends, and trunk rotations are some examples of dynamic stretching. Here is a video with some examples of dynamic stretching perfect for youth soccer players:
- Soccer Agility Drills: 5-15 minutes of agility drills to help get the central nervous system started working. Agility ladders are a great way to work on agility. You can also use mini hurdles and cones to work on agility. Here is an example of youth soccer drills to do on an agility ladder:
- Work on soccer speed and sprinting drills as much as possible: You can incorporate speed and sprinting in drills or by doing races and relays. Try to work on speed with and without the ball. Speed work should be done in 10-30 yard distances. Example of speed work w/ the ball: Youth soccer players work in pairs. To make the drill competitive, match fast players with fast players and slower with slower players. Two players stand in line. The server kicks the ball towards the goals (10-30 yards away). The two players will then sprint at 100% max speed to reach the ball. Whoever reaches the ball first is on offense and needs to make a direct run towards the goal to score. The other player tries to stop the attacker
- Cool Down: Youth soccer players should do a light jog and some light skipping, eventually slowing down to a walking pace. Try to slowly bring heart rate down to a resting rate. One can also do some light dynamic stretching (talked about above). Once the heart rate is slowed down, players should perform static stretches. Players should static stretch all major muscles groups for a 20-30 seconds.
There are other topics to cover during preseason:
- Make sure to talk about proper hydration and nutrition, so youth soccer players can give their best during practices and games.
- In soccer practice, try to stay away from slow jogging, or jogging at one pace for long periods of time as this does not translate to the demands of the sport.
- While making the soccer preseason productive, its important to include some fun and team bonding. This helps start the season out on a good note.
By: Jenny Jurkowski, Certified Personal Trainer, Division 1 soccer player (1998-2002) and a certified soccer coach (U.S. Soccer Federation National C Coaching License)