Are you ready for pre-season training?

The first week back at training often means pain in terms of getting back to fitness. Depending on how your players have spent the summer it can be hard work for them.

Muscles seize up, legs tire out and the next day players feel stiff and sore. Getting in shape for the big kick-off means revisiting all those skills and techniques that had been finely tuned last season and have been forgotten in favour of Xbox skills!

Young players need to shake the cobwebs from their brains, leave behind long hours spent watching the summer tournaments and once again remember how, why and when to. It isn’t just the long, hard slog to get limbs moving, it is getting players to kick-start their speed of thought and get their bodies to match it and move in the right direction.

First touch, weight of pass, shooting and accuracy are all very relevant to a pre-season work out. At will, young players need to be able to perform repeated sprints and changes of direction.

Don’t forget goalkeepers too, who will be using throwing and kicking actions to get balls to their team mates over different distances. I like to use fast games with lots of touches to get players back into the groove.

I will run a lot of sessions on getting the basics right because that is the rock that fitness is built upon – if they forget the basics on match days, the players will be struggling. Get keepers to join in sessions too, so they are getting their muscles built up for the new season.

There are a couple of things to remember: fun is one of the main reasons players turn up to your coaching sessions. If you run pre-season like it’s a military exercise, you will have a bunch of unhappy kids who will not want to come back.

Make it light-hearted and fun and they will not want to leave. Don’t forget the drinks breaks. When players come back to training they will probably sweat a lot, especially if it is warm weather.

Players who become dehydrated lose performance; they will have less concentration, co-ordination, power, motivation and speed.

Pre-season checklist:

If you want to make sure your pre-season is a success, follow these golden rules:

  • Make a simple start to pre-season at three-quarter pace
  • Get back to basics: passing, pressing, first-touch, shooting
  • Remember that hard work pays off
  • Ensure your players drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration
  • Make it fun – no army commands
  • Target success for individuals

Many of the top clubs will use sessions to keep players fit all season. These are normally the academy players but it is worth trying at all ages and levels of the game. Try the Fit and Focused session from Soccer Coach Weekly to keep your players fit in the off-season.

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