Youth Soccer Gets Load Management Wrong

Youth Soccer Gets Load Management Wrong

To better prepare athletes for load, they must load.

It must be progressed carefully, like the graph above.

Soccer players must also train at a higher stress than game day, rather than doing the same, light to moderate, ad nauseam sport specific nonsense year-round.

Eventually, they need to load their muscles so they get stronger, be exposed to high-speed running to actually get faster, and undergo high intensity conditioning so they don’t poop out in the final minutes. Sustaining high intensities sets apart the women from the girls.

Load management isn’t babying athletes.

Load management isn't babying athletes. Click To Tweet

Many believe it’s cutting back on minutes, canceling in-season strength training, or ignoring in season speed work. Many believe it’s extra recovery days. Many believe it’s benching an athlete. It’s not. It’s far, far from these.

Though recovery is a sliver of load management, athletes must still be prepared to handle stress.

Though recovery is a sliver of load management, athletes must still be prepared to handle stress. Click To Tweet

Done correctly, load management should properly build up the athlete to handle load. Overtraining, to that end, isn’t always the problem, it’s under preparation.

Building Up to Handle Higher Loads

Imagine you signed up for a marathon that is to take place in three months. That’s a little over 26 miles. You’ve never run this distance in your life. At least, not straight through. Your body needs to prepare for the cardiovascular and muscular demands, so you don’t gasp for air or collapse in soreness, and so you perform at a high level. How do you structure your training on week 1? Do you run 26 miles right out the gate? Was your body ready for this? It likely was sore after the first day, and maybe you suffered a soft tissue injury. How was your performance? Did you get a good time running 26 miles for the first time?

Does a more gradual training regimen need to be in place, so injury risk stays low and you’re ready for the race? Maybe in week 1 you run 2-3 miles, then week 2 you progress to 4, then week 3 to 5, then week four to 6. It’s a gradual build up to train tissues to tolerate more load over time. And not rushing it to mitigate injury risk.

For the adults, another analogy Dr. Tim Gabbett, my favorite applied sport scientists and load management experts gives is going for a big night out for the first time, with no prior experience drinking alcohol. Several beverages were consumed and the next morning is spent nursing a splitting headache and horrific hangover. What if instead the principles of training and load management were applied, and there was a gradual build up to tolerating high amounts of alcohol?

Soccer players need the same. They need durable muscles that can take on the forces from sport specific load.

Before purchasing a GPS unit to flash to paying parents, get a strength training program in place first.

Tissue tolerance must be stronger than sport specific load.

That’s load management in a nutshell.

It’s not just cutting back on minutes, or looking at the data, reacting quickly, and benching an athlete. It’s over preparing, and building up tolerance.

Load management is not just cutting back on minutes, it’s over preparing, and building up tolerance. Click To Tweet

Check out the latest episode of the Soccer Queens Podcast here that discusses load management in depth:





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