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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Improve Quickness and Agility with the Speed Ladder

In the modern era speed and agility are one of the most essential assets a player can attain but training for this purpose is often overlooked. One of the simplest ways to boost this attribute is by implementing the speed ladder into your training routine. The benefits of the speed ladder help improve footwork, coordination and mental concentration. A sample workout that takes no more than 20 minutes can be seen below

Sample Workout

  • Straight Run (one foot in each) x3 repetitions

  • In n Out Hope (two-foot hop inside two feet hop outside) x3 repetitions

  • Continuous Hop( Two footed) x3 repetitions

  • Two Footed Sprint x3 repetitions

  • 180-degree high knee sprint(two-footed) x3 repetitions

  • 180-degree double jump (miss one space) x3 repetitions

  • Thunderbolt Step/Zigzag(forward and backward diagonally through)x3 repetitions

If you are new to the speed ladder be sure to take each exercise slowly and focus on getting the technique right. As you perform more repetitions, the technique will come where you can begin to increase the tempo of each drill. This is due to the science behind how our muscles work. Muscle memory is a type of motor learning called procedural memory occurring in the brain, of course. Through the act of repetition, your brain cements the action into its neural pathways so that the movement becomes second nature. This is exactly what you want. At the same time, there is something called Muscle Adaptation where our body becomes used to the movement and exercises we may be doing which is why it is vital to continue to challenge ourselves once we have reached the point where each drill can be done with ease. Not only do our muscles need to be tested but so does our brain and this is a way to improve both aspects at the same time while working on fitness, so it is a great way to knock out three birds with one stone.

As you begin to advance within performing each exercise you should look to add more game realistic scenarios to it for example upon completing one set, setting off with a burst of pace in a specific direction to train muscle memory when carrying out the motion which you will look to replicate in your game. This subconsciously builds good habits into your form and technique when looking to make changes in direction or a quick dash.

As an aspiring soccer player, all aspects of your game should be worked on, and this is one side of the game that is ignored but really consumes the least time in comparison to more technical drills. It can easily be added to the beginning or end of a session, so there are no excuses, get out there!


Hydration: Why is it important for performance?

Don't wait to hydrate until your feel thirsty!  If your thirst mechanism is triggered, you are already showing signs of dehydration.  Optimize your sports performance by following a hydration plan and make adjusts based on factors such as weather and exertion. 

Dehydration can lead to:

·      ↓ Muscle Strength

·      ↓ Speed and Stamina

·      ↓ Energy

·      ↑ Risk for injury

Avoiding all these negative effects can be the difference between winning, losing and staying healthy. Therefore, it is vital to rehydrate before, during and after practicing or playing games. 

When should I rehydrate?
Before workouts:

·      Close to practice/competition you should be consuming liquid calories, such as, Sports drinks

·      2-3 hours before training, consume 17 ounces of fluids

·      8oz (1cup) immediately prior to competition or practice

During workouts:

·      2-4 cups (16-32oz) of sports drinks per hour (ideally) or

·      1 cup (8oz) every 15-20mins

·      If the practice or competition is longer than an hour try to consume carbohydrates as you hydrate

o   Sports drinks are the ideal method rather than trying to eat foods

Post-Workouts:

·      Aim to start hydrating immediately after practice/competition or at least within 30 minutes post-practice/competition

·      Consume at least 24oz for every pound lost from training or exercise.
 

Over hydration

·      The recommendations above are guidelines and should be used as such. Each individual will be different

·      To avoid over hydration do not drink more than you sweat

·      Try to drink sports drinks because they contain some sodium and carbohydrates

 

Sources: Boston University Sargent Choice Nutrition Center: Nutrition Advisers for Boston University Men’s Soccer.

Villanova University Nutrition Center- http://www1.villanova.edu/content/dam/villanova/studentlife/documents/healthpromotion/Hydration%20guideline%20for%20athletes.pdf

Foam rolling for recovery

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What is it?

In scientific terms, foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release. In other words, rolling helps treat muscular immobility and pain. It does this by relaxing contracted muscles, improving blood and lymphatic circulation and stimulating the stretch reflex in muscles. The effects from rolling are similar to receiving a massage from another person.

Why should you do it?

Foam rolling has been scientifically shown to reduce post-exercise fatigue, therefore, providing quicker recovery from playing and training. It is important to note though that foam rolling has no effect performance. However, the reduction in fatigue can extend workout time and volume that can then lead to long-term performance enhancements. Remember, the main benefit of foam rolling is quicker recovery.

How do you do it?

Foam rollers are found in many different forms, some are soft, some have ridges, but all are used the same way. Foam rolling can be completed with a specially designed compacted foam roller sold in many sports shops. Alternatively, rolling can be completed with a PVC pipe. All types should give similar effects. To roll you want to apply pressure to the roller as you roll up and down on the roller. Muscle groups to target are calves, hamstrings, glutes, quads, IT band (outside of quad), groin, hip flexor (top of the quad), and back (lower and upper).

Here is a demonstration video of how to rollhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khC5J1lkC7s

Source: http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Abstract/2014/01000/The_Effects_of_Myofascial_Release_With_Foam.8.aspx