I was wondering if you can help me in this dilemma? I am a coach of a competitive boys soccer team. I have been reading about conditioning for my sport, and I have encountered different views in regard to which age is appropriate to start a conditioning program (aerobic, anaerobic, Strength) for youth soccer players that would allow performance to improve.
I would appreciate your input, and if you have any books you suggest I read it would be great.
Coach R. Tomarchio
I am a great believer in having the game take care of all technical, tactical, physical and mental improvement.
For soccer conditioning training you should focus on the application of Step. 3 (1 vs.1) Competitive Play, in my “FUNdamental SOCCER Practice”
Allow the players to partner up with a player of their own choice. Have the players put down their own ‘small goals’ which should be placed, at least, 10 yards apart. Begin the game with ‘A Serve’ from the right side of their own goal. At the same time start your watch and allow them to play from 30 seconds to 1 minute depending on the conditioning you seek.
Incidentally, do not have any other boundaries; the ball is constantly in play for the full time. Allow them to score from either side; this also keeps the action going! When time is over call ‘stop’ and the last player back to his/her goal gives a point to their opponent (this forces them to sprint back into position).
Have a 1 minute (active) rest period. For example: ask the players to pass the ball back and forth between partners, while you ask each one ‘how many’ points they scored?
Keep a running ‘total’ of who scored. Then ask the players to “Rotate” and once again we begin the 1 vs. 1 game – stop on a signal – take another break – ask for points scored.
Once each player has played ALL the other players on the team – and they are back to their first opponent. Begin the whole sequence again – except, have them start the game by ‘serving’ the ball from the left side of their goal.
This part of the “Routine” was highly emphasized by three high school coaches this last season. Each added – that the ‘totaling of points” was used for their criteria as to who would be in their starting line-up. They took the emotional part out of selecting their starting eleven – by totaling up points in the 1 vs. 1 game and the top eleven were automatic starters. No questions asked!
All three ended their season ‘on top’ of their league standings – two for the first time in tenure as high school head coaches. All three – claimed that they did not go back to their ‘traditional’ lap running and wind sprints for conditioning. The players ‘loved’ the exclusion of these non-soccer activities – and the coaches appreciated their player’s fitness, after they saw the game results.
Additionally, two of the coaches added variety and gave points in the 1 vs. 1 game for more than just scoring (i.e. preventing goals, good tackles, enthusiasm, etc.). The final result, the players had to continuously give their best effort, in practice over long periods of time resulting in tremendous soccer fitness – Priceless..!
Koach Karl (Karl Dewazien)
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