December 16, 2021
As our seasons finished this past weekend until 2022 I get asked, what should our soccer player be doing in the off season?
First, players should rest. Soccer is a contact sport that is tough on the knees and ankles, taking a week or two off to rest will help any lingering issues. Rest and recover. Physical and mental burn out are real issues for players of any age. Allow the players some time to refresh their bodies and minds to come back ready to learn and compete.
So, what should you do in the off season? First, watch soccer. Simple. Choose a team from a league you can watch that play regularly, Premier league, La Liga, MLS, NWSL or FA WSL. Some of the leagues are in off season so won’t apply to this Winter but would apply to Summer. Watch the player/s that play your position/s. How do they influence the game? Who do they usually combine with/what areas of the field do they operate (eg inside forward vs winger)? If they are a #9 (striker), how do they play? Watch the little things they do, “Ronaldo always follows up shots which results in him scoring an easy goal every one or two games”.
When I was younger (oh no, I’ve started to say it) I didn’t have YouTube to rewatch skills or goals. I used to watch my favorite skillful and creative players during their games on TV. If they did a skill move I didn’t know I’d go and try it after the game, sometimes this worked, other times it didn’t and I made my own version. Every touch on the ball improved my own touch, ball skills, balance and coordination. Watch player highlights on YouTube and go outside and try it.
Self reflection. What are my strengths and areas to improve as a soccer player? If you know what you need to work on it’s easier to focus on it. Coaches & trainers can also help identify areas to improve here.
Lastly a couple of simple options for players. Juggle! Juggling is keeping the ball in the air using body parts allowed in soccer. Juggling is tough until it becomes fun, the fun is when you are in competition with yourself or teammates/siblings. Beat your juggling record. Try alternate foot juggles. Try small small high juggles. Try high juggles. Creative juggles. Younger players one bounce juggles or thigh foot combinations.
Pickup games with anyone! Play with someone who is not the same age/skill/size. Learn to play in different environments. Playing the game of soccer in any way will help develop skills to improve on the return to the field. I’m excited to see pictures/videos of your holiday family pick up games!
The off season isn’t off soccer, just off the actual practice field.