For many NJ soccer players the winter months, and primarily December, is about rest and recuperation. The High School athletes in particular have gone through a grueling season in which they played 2 or 3 games a week and trained the rest of the days minus Sundays. I personally always recommend my players get some well needed rest during the Holiday month, but after a class I took with a Canadian Soccer Fitness program I realized December and January is a time to build strength.
Soccer Fitness Inc’s Director – Richard Bucciarelli described this portion of the season as the “Transition or Off Season Phase.” This is the time following the Fall and Spring seasons where many teams take a break, play indoor soccer or futsal, and have limited training sessions due to the lack of facilities in New Jersey. Here are a few indoor facilities if you are looking for somewhere to play this winter:
- Dutch Total Soccer – Soccer Centers Somerset
- Bob Smith Soccer – Robbinsville
- The Soccer Coliseum – Teaneck
- The Fields – East Brunswick
- Good Sports – Wall
For younger players (U14 and below) this is a time to make sure the kids are still on a ball and maintaining footwork skills. If you are getting technically based training sessions in once a week, and competing in a league, you are probably ahead of the curve across the State.
For HS Aged players (U15 and above) if this course taught me anything, you should be doing a little more…
- Rest and Recovery – Any injuries from the Fall season should be fully rested and rehabbed. Players suffering from injuries should take some time off the field to do some light exercises that help them heal and stay off a soccer field until they fell 100%.
- Maintain Aerobic Fitness – This can be very difficult with the Holiday seasons and the over-eating American’s routinely do. It is important that all HS aged players get to the gym and do some fitness to maintain the aerobic levels they created over the Fall season. These can be running, swimming, cycling exercises that focus on stimulating the heart and lungs, improving the body’s utilization of oxygen.
- Increase Muscle Size – It is time to do some weight training… This is something I wasn’t sure would be beneficial to HS athletes, but Soccer Fitness Inc. ensured that it was key. It is a prime time for soccer athlete’s to build strength (all should be supervised), but players need to build a weight room routine that will work on the legs and upper body during the winter months.
- Addressing Functional Weaknesses – Hopefully your coach or trainer gave you an evaluation or at least explained the technical areas needing focus during the off season. Take advantage of this time off of the field to improve those skills and take it seriously. If you need to work on your weak foot (we all do) do it, if control out of the air is the problem – get to it. This is your time to play catch up and sitting on the couch and watching Home Alone and A Christmas Carol is great, but really you are just falling behind your peers that are staying hard at work.