After coaching 15 years, the transition after the high school season is always difficult for players, families and coaches. You build momentum as a team, work hard through 16 games, and then compete in the playoff season – with the emotional wins and losses that result.
During the season, I am often asked by athletes about what a soccer player can do to get more playing time and/or what can the athlete do to get better. I often equate this to last-minute cramming for a test without doing the necessary homework. This question should be asked now at the beginning of the off season, rather than during the season. It is the critical steps that an athlete takes during off season that will allow the athlete to enhance his/her skills as a soccer player.
Often soccer athletes need some combination of fitness training, such as speed and agility, and/or technical and tactical soccer skills development. In Northeast, Ohio, soccer players are very fortunate to have several available resources to support their development.
Find a place for speed and agility training around your neighborhood. By the end of the season, after playing 80 minutes or more during practices and games, each soccer player has built an enhanced- level of fitness. This level of fitness can be lost within weeks. So, it is vital that all soccer players keep up with fitness training that includes strength, speed and agility workouts. Maintaining one’s fitness is one of the most important injury-prevention steps an athlete can take.
There are also many ways, including club soccer teams and winter leagues, to continue to stay involved with soccer. It is important for a soccer player to not lose technical abilities such as: first touches, ball control and dribbling.
Although soccer is my passion, I understand that athletes today have many interests and play multiple sports. What I encourage for the athletes playing multiple sports, is to at least get in some soccer training during the winter and spring months. Ball work is critical to maintain your technical skills. For those who play soccer year-round, I encourage athletes to identify what technical and tactical skills need further development. Focus on those skills during practices and games throughout winter and spring seasons.
There is no perfect soccer player. Even the most famous soccer players, continuously work on developing and honing their skills. Learning how to improve and grow your soccer skills is an important life lesson that is translatable to every aspect of your life. This is exactly why I am starting Excel Soccer Skills to supplement the training and instruction players receive from their coaches during the season. I wish you the best during this transition