Do I need to train in the summer after my club team ends the season?

For many players, summer offers an opportunity to work on fitness, foundational skills and weaknesses. For others, it may be time to recover from nagging injuries. Exactly when you should return to training and competitive play following your spring season depends on many factors including post-season schedule and physical and mental health.

While rest can be beneficial, it should rarely ever mean 100% rest. Even incorporating in light jogs and bike flushes in the days after your final matches will help propel you into summer training. If you want to improve and be a competitive player, it is important to find a rhythm and keep it during the summer even when your team ends the season. Maintaining fitness over the summer takes planning and dedication.

The summer gives players the freedom to improve on their weaknesses, fitness and work on foundation skills. Consider ball control for example. This skill is easy developed independently. Check out this link below which recommends training with different size and types of balls to improve on control: https://www.perfectsoccerskills.com/blogs/news/114817603-using-smaller-balls-to-develop-better-control. Summer is also a perfect time to work on cardio and strength training since there is no worry about being sore for matches.

Before you jump right into a summer training regime, remember one of the most important factors in planning out your summer should be your health! While many players are anxious to jump back into training, players recently recovering from injuries should use this time wisely. The last thing you want to do is further aggravate nagging injuries. If there’s been an issue with your body this spring, use summertime wisely to do physical therapy exercises and corrective stretching. This will help you strengthen and lengthen your muscle tissue, thereby preventing future injuries.

According to a recent Dutch study, high school players may be more susceptible to injury following a recent growth spurt. One doctor suggests that overuse injuries can be substantially reduced by early intervention. Check out this doctor’s recommendations and interpretation of the recent Dutch study at: https://www.socceramerica.com/publications/article/81630/teenage-growth-spurt-a-risky-time-for-soccer-inju.html

Finally, it is important to acknowledge that some group training is important even in the off-season. Even just training with a handful of teammates once or twice a week can help you stay as close to game shape as possible. Or maybe this is your opportunity to train with a new group of players in a summer league. This may provide a breath of fresh air from the same training and players you’ve been with all season. You would be surprised what kind of potential you can unlock from playing with new players, training styles, and coaches. All in all, it should go without saying that summer training is absolutely necessary for serious players.

Why Should I train with College Coaches in the summer?

Summer is usually when players have the most downtime to focus on improvement and college recruitment. It also acts as an important transition phase between club seasons. It is important to train with college coaches at this time for 3 main reasons.

1. Intimate recruitment exposure

One of the more obvious reasons to train with college coaches in the summer is the opportunity to possibly get recruited to play for them in the future. This is enticing because training in this closed environment allows the coach to get to know you better as a player and a person. Coaches are less inclined to hand out scholarships to players they have seen play in tournaments, but not gotten to know on a personal level because it poses more of a risk. Coaches look for driven players who maintain a level head on and off the field. They would much rather recruit players they’ve made a relationship with, rather than someone more unknown who could potentially be a head case. If a coach can see how you play in games and train in practices he will feel more comfortable recruiting you and likely feel better about offering you a substantial scholarship.

2. Personal measurement and goals

Playing in front of college coaches with new players around you is a great opportunity to see where you’re at. There are a number of scenarios you can encounter. For example, you could be an average player for your club team, however, after training with college coaches, you realize that in the grand scheme of youth soccer, you are actually a top quality player who could play in college. This could especially be true if you’re team is very talented and you don’t always shine through. Another scenario could be the opposite; you are the best on your club team, but come to the realization that overall there are better players out there who are more college ready. Either way, it is important to train with college coaches to give yourself a fair gauge of where you’re at. It can help you better-set goals and aim for a realistic college decision. Development can be drastic throughout high school so by training in this environment and setting goals for improvement, players can push themselves to get to the next level. Additionally, college coaches can highlight your weaknesses and provide methods for improvement.

3. Learn what coaches demand from college players

While plenty of club coaches are demanding and run sessions with energy, there is usually a different type of intensity required by college coaches simply because college players set their coaches standards higher. Each of their players has been recruited and are expected to deliver a certain level of play to maintain their spot. This translates into the way college coaches run their sessions and hold their players accountable to their positions during sessions. You can expect them to push players to their healthy limits through purposeful, well-planned drills. These types of drills are meant to teach players their positional awareness, limit turnovers while playing with a purpose quickly, and continuously move off the ball in space. College coaches know what is necessary for youth players to be successful in college because they’ve recruited players and then coached them in the subsequent years; this knowledge translates into training and can prove to be vital in the development of youth players. Youth players can get a glimpse of what playing for college coaches is really like by training with them in the summer. This is also important to see how you will enjoy it at the next level, where almost every day is spent training with your teammates and coaches.

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Ways to get ahead on the recruiting curve

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Recruiting is a fierce competition, both from an athlete’s perspective and a coaches perspective. Everyone is always looking for ways to get an edge and standout. Chances are, if you’re not the next up and coming superstar, you’re among the horde of student-athletes trying to get the attention of the coaches at your desired school. Here’s a few ways to stand out from the pack.

  1. Reach out as early as possible
    Reaching out via email or phone can help put you on a coaches radar even if you do so as a freshman. The coach may not respond or show any reaction to the initial time you reach out, but if you build up a year or two of communication, your name will be hard to forget. Now this doesn’t mean contacting the coach every week, because that looks desperate and can be annoying. But reaching out every few months or so is a good start.

  2. Being Prompt in responding
    If you’re fortunate to have the coaches you’re interested in return that interest, it’s always best to respond as quickly and thoroughly as possible. There’s no benefit in keeping a coach waiting unless you don’t immediately have the answer to their question. And even in cases like that, a simple “I don’t currently have the answer to your question but I will let you know as soon as I figure it out” can go a long way.

  3. Be Polite
    Simply put, Coaches don’t have time for players with attitude. Showing that you’re not a problem kid and that you have good manners can go a long way.

  4. Staying on top of your grades and Admissions
    Having the GPA and test scores to get into your school or schools of choice makes Coaches a lot more likely to recruit you. If they don’t have to fight with admissions, that makes their already hectic life easier. Doing your own research into the GPA and standardized testing minimums of a school can help you select schools where you’ll be a great fit not only athletically, but academically as well.