26 Mar How to Plan In-Season Around A Busy Soccer Schedule
Last week, I wrote a brief article summarizing what needs to be done in-season for soccer players. The main theme being, don’t wither away. In order for soccer players to maintain their levels of performance – from maximal sprinting speed, to sharp agility, to acceleration and power, it bodes well to continue an in-season strength plan. But also. The amount of load needs to be monitored with great care so players stay on the field, too.
I got a soccer coach and consultant in the house. Dave Latourette is a breath of fresh air when it comes to designing a meticulous in-season template. Enjoy.
As a coach it’s not hard for us to find ways to eliminate or not consider any form of strength training during our seasons. In reality, with some desire, education, and belief in strength training, it can be a valuable part of your “in-season” training process.
What I have outlined below is a seven day template I have used successfully as a foundation for an “in-season” strength training program. This template is moldable based on the needs of the athlete / program but also around match schedules. The foundation is structured around 2 matches per week in the normal compressed game schedule we may see in high school and collegiate programs. Athletes that come into this program with a background of strength training will typically maintain a large amount of their strength. Athletes who have no background in strength training will actually get stronger during the season, and all athletes add a layer of injury prevention to their armor.
While the focus on the template is how to integrate a strength program into your weekly training schedule, I have added some general ideas on how other training sessions might typically be structured for my team(s).
THE 7 DAY SCHEDULE
–DAY 1) MATCH DAY -2 / +2 (A day off precedes this)
Training Session Focus: A High Tempo training session with small sided play preceded by technical warm and any functional / tactical needs to be addressed. (If we do not strength train today, we will use the warm up routine described on DAY 3
Strength Session Day: A Full Body Routine That May Contain The Following
*Kettle Bell Swings: If we do these they will be light and very form based as a pre-curser to the rest of the workout. (3 Sets 10-15 reps)
* Upper Body: 2-3 Exercises, 3 Sets with repetitions ranging 4-10. (Any 1 Arm Pull Exercise, and 1 Arm Push Exercise, Push Up, Pull Up)
* Lower Body: 2-3 Exercises. 3 Sets with repetitions ranging 4-10. (Single Leg Hip Bridge, Deadlift, Bowlers Lunge, Swiss Ball Hamstring Curls / Hamstring Focus)
NOTE: All of our strength work is “form focus” first with an emphasis on mastering the technique / movement before all else.
–DAY 2) MATCH DAY -1
Training Session Focus: Match readiness: physically, mentally and tactically. Warm up is “multi planed” and technical with a ball
NOTE: No Strength Today
–DAY 3) MATCH DAY.
Match Days are tricky because of the extreme loads put on some athletes and very light loads on others. We realize we need all of our players to be ready across the season, and in turn we do the best we can to not let fitness and strength decline over that period. Our 7-day cycle is our preferred method to manage this without completely splitting the team away from each other when at all possible. When the season has bigger gaps between matches we will adapt this process.
Non-Starters preferably will stay in a chronic state of warm up during the match. This will not only keep them prepared for match entry but also adds some light load, and fitness they would not be getting otherwise by sitting on the bench.
Post Match: As soon as possible after all home matches we will split the team in to two groups. Group 1 is those who play the majority of minutes and Group 2 includes all players who did not play or were low minute / low load players.
Group 1 will go straight to the pool for an active recovery session that is 10 minutes long. Following that they will go immediately to the weight room where they may do 2-3 Upper Body Exercises similar to DAY 1 and includes 4 sets with reps between 4-8. (On top of general strength gains or maintenance from this session. Research has found that small amounts of heavy, upper body strength training supports the process of lower body recovery because of the hormonal response from that strength training)
Group 2 may start with some high intensity conditioning, 15min, with anything from stadium stairs, short intervals, quickness ladders or even stationary bike intervals for some. This will be followed by exercises similar to Day 1 with the exception that some players may eliminate the deadlift.
–DAY 4) Match Day +1 / -2
Another challenging day. We will use the warm up and strength routine below to begin training, but then we have to make decisions on the fly relative to any fatigue, “injuries” at a variety of levels, and players with more freshness than those who played significant minutes. It’s important to be creative with who gets more training load or more repetitions based on how players pass the “eye test” from yesterday’s match and relative to how they are moving and responding. One thing we have noticed is the difference in fatigue 24 hours later relative to; home vs away matches, hot synthetic turf vs softer natural surfaces, and hot vs cool climate matches.
* TODAYS KEY: Warm Up + Strength Routine: All players go through a very progressive warm up with a partner that includes:
-Variety of resistance band work including; Lateral walks, lateral walk with a lunge, and lunge holds with focus on knees forward / not dropping in.
-Intermixed with these exercises, a player’s partner may be doing “air squats”, single leg squat hold or bowlers lunge, push up, or jump rope before rotating.
-We will also mix in some very progressive fast running plus technical 1 and 2 touch work with a ball.
NOTE: This warm up covers all of our bases and takes 15-20min depending on the day and the progression used. I have noticed an improved training readiness the day after matches using this routine.
–DAY 5) Same as Day 2
–DAY 6) Match Day
-Same as Day 4
NOTE: Away matches are more challenging than home matches and I have to be selective about what we can accomplish. It may range from no ancillary strength work, to some light activity post-match, to a session identical to Day 4.
–DAY 7) OFF
For programs that do not have a weight room available, being creative with resistance bands, body weight exercises, and medicine balls, you can still accomplish a large part of what’s needed.
Finally, beyond the potential for strength maintenance and / or gains, the biggest result I have seen come from this program is injury prevention. At the end of your seasons if you can look at your roster and have everyone healthy and match ready allows you to have more choices to achieve your goals.
About The Author
Dave Latourette is a Business Owner & Consultant, and an Adjunct Instructor in Kinesiology / Associate Head Men’s Soccer Coach at Santa Rosa JC. He has also coached at The University of Arkansas, Dartmouth College, and The University of Hartford among others. You can find him on Twitter here, and he can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.