This post is a message to all High School soccer coaches to give your club players a rest before conditioning them this summer. The players just went through a very tough spring season in which they could have played anywhere from 15-40 games and may have trained in 50-80 sessions over the course of 4 months. That is plenty of soccer, and I think it is safe to say the majority of those players are fully fit for their high school seasons. They just need maintenance at this point and crushing them with 2 mile runs, leg lifts, push-ups and suicides (when they should really just be going to see Suicide Squad) is going to wear them out or just deter them from coming to training at all.
I ask, no I beg High School coaches to talk to their kids and take notice who has just gone through a vigorous club season and take it easy on them. I am sure the argument will be made that the whole team must do this work together, but that is just not true, some players need the work and others do not. Make them run the 2 mile, ONCE, and if they beat the time necessary don’t make them do it again to reward their fitness levels. Another solution would be to hold separate fitness training sessions for those in need, and soccer specific training for the entire group. Players are going through boot camps at high school sessions, and doing 2-a-days in 90 plus degree heat. This is an old school way of training and High School coaches need to adapt their practices to stay in sync with the new age club soccer player.
Just over-hearing my U15 team talk about High School sessions I heard things like:
“I get sick to my stomach just thinking about preseason”
“I am not sure I even want to play for the team”
“Our coach just doesn’t get that I am tired, but I still give it my all”
These quotes should be alarm bells in High School coaches ears. Players do not want to go to your training sessions, and that is the number 1 problem. You can make players soccer fit without running them into the ground, and do it with a ball on their foot. Diligent players will do work on their own if you give them ideas outside of training and as long as you don’t burn them out inside of them. Don’t give them a 10 page manifest of drills and conditioning ideas that will easily be discarded (one of my kids showed me their coach’s email to the players that was this long and she was clearly overwhelmed). Giving them small goals early on in conditioning and building up the stamina instead of breaking it down in the first mandatory week is the way to do it.
For example: 2 mile run
Week 1 Goal: 13 Minutes
Week 2 Goal: 12:45
Week 3 Goal: 12:30
And so on….
I am not trying to start an argument between club and High School coaches, merely a discussion. I have said before that we need to communicate more often to help our players stay happy and healthy in what is becoming a single sport mentality in this country. Players are asked to play their sport year-round now and if club coaches are continually willing to allow players to participate in High School programs, we just want to make sure they are trained the right way. I know nearly every girl on my U15 team is 90 minute match fit right now for their High School seasons, so why are High School coaches pushing them so hard and so far before the start of it?