The summer months are an important time because they give our players a chance to rest and recharge at the end of a long season before they prepare for the next one. You can’t constantly train at a high level without breaking down and risking injury and burnout. But it’s important for players, especially as they mature, to prepare for the challenges of returning to training.
Goals of Preseason Conditioning
- Get the players fit enough to start training
- Practice basic skills
- Injury prevention
It’s important for maturing players to have a base of fitness before they start to train. Small-sided games are a risky and inefficient way to create this base. Players are more susceptible to injury when they jump right into playing games without giving their body time adapt. Small-sided games often have too much stopping and starting to challenge the player’s cardiovascular system. You can get fit by playing but it’s going to take you longer than if you go in with a base to build from.
Start with Cardio
I begin by asking the players to run continuously for 24 minutes. I’ll have them do this two to three times a week until they are able to complete this comfortably.
Then we take the last three weeks before training begins to do runs where that are measured. These are best done on a track but can also be measured in other ways. I ask them to run twice a week with at least one day of rest between each run.
The first run is 24 minutes. The players record how far they were able to run in that time. The goal for each of the next four runs is to cover an increasingly greater distance. The second time they go for two 12-minute runs with a five minute rest.
The next week the players start with three eight-minute runs with a three minute rest between each one. The second run of the week is four six-minute runs with two minutes of rest between each one.
The final week the players complete six four-minute runs with only one minute between each run. The players will be shocked by how much more distance they can cover in 24 minutes of running than they could at the beginning of the program. You can have them complete another steady 24 minute run to finish the program.
This base of fitness will help your players get more out of the technical and tactical work you have planned for them.
Change of Direction Shuttles
I like to incorporate strength and fitness training along with ball work whenever possible. This is done once or twice per week but not on days when the players complete conditioning runs.
The players will be improving there touch along with turning and cutting ability while they are preparing their muscles to accelerate and decelerate quickly and smoothly.
How It’s Done
- Two cones 5-yard apart
- 20 Seconds On 40 Seconds Off
- 2-3 sets for each exercise
- Exercises (Each set is done for two weeks)
- Set 1 – 180 Degree COD Moves
- Repeat Step Over (R/L)
- Repeat Stop and Go (BOB)
- Repeat Cruyff
- Repeat Chop
- Repeat Hook
- Set 2 – 180 Degree COD Moves
- Shuffle In – Shuffle Out
- Repeat Step Over
- Shuffle In – Run Out
- Repeat Stop and Go
- Run In – Shuffle Out
- Repeat Cruyff
- Run In – Run Out
- Choice Move
- Set 1 – 180 Degree COD Moves
- Set 3 – 180 Degree COD Continuous Shuttle
- Up 10 yards and Back 5 yards
- Step Over (R/L)
- Stop and Go (R/L)
- Cruyff (R/L)
- Chop (R/L)
- Hook (R/L)
I begin each season by evaluating my players with a test developed by our conditioning experts at AthleteFIT. You can find a complete breakdown of the test with videos and descriptions by clicking this link to the AthleteFIT Game Speed Test.
There are six test: One Fitness Test, Three Skills Tests and Two Speed Tests.
For a complete description visit AthleteFIT Game Speed Test
The really powerful part of their program is that it gives you the ability to upload your results to their site for free. This gives each of your players a breakdown of how they scored in each of the three areas of Fitness, Skill and Speed. It also allows you to compare your scores against the other 30,000 players that have recorded their scores. You can see how you compare in your age group and with the best players ever tested.
This is what the breakdown looks like. I’d encourage you to test some or all of your players and visit AthleteFIT Game Speed Test. Enter their scores and see what a powerful testing and development tool this can be.
I think that it’s important that every coach offers their players some type of preseason conditioning program. You want your players come to your first training session fit and ready to train so you’ll be able to get them ready for their first games as soon as possible.
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In the Next Episode
I really enjoyed watching the Women’s World Cup over the last month. The US team progressed very well during the tournament and played their best games in the elimination rounds. Next week I want to talk about one of the keys to their success in my opinion and how I use this core principle with all of my teams.