PRE-SEASON | WEEK 1: Shaping up

The first week of Soccer Coach Weekly’s pre-season plan is all about getting moving and getting some focus on what it is we are aiming to achieve by the time the whistle blows in anger for the first time in the new season.

This guide will ensure your players are in the best possible shape – mentally and physically – for the upcoming season. Fitness and ball skills go hand in hand and this is the start your team has been waiting for.

Our plan helps you and your team clear out the summer cobwebs, as we assemble a targeted, focused and up-to-date schedule that’s as easy to coach as it is great fun to participate in.

What shape are they in?

The chances are your players are still in pretty good condition because, hopefully, they’ve been outdoors during summer and running around.

For that reason, dragging them back into shape for the new season shouldn’t be too much of a problem, although it always pays to construct a focused and organised training plan.

A good plan should refresh, energise and build on the progress made last season, as well as look forward to what you want to attain in the months ahead. Focusing players on what they can achieve – as a team, as well as individuals – means they’ll really buy into the importance of the plan.

Look sharp

The good thing about implementing a fitness plan is that it gives the team a real focus. It helps players regain their sharpness and cut out any bad habits they may have slipped back into. This means you can head into the season with your squad at its sharpest.

Arrival activities

As with any training session, start your first practice with a good arrival activity – these two are ideal.

Running and stretching

A plan that rotates jogging with static and dynamic stretching is smart, with 5 minutes for each move.

Static stretching is about holding a shape or position, while dynamic stretching uses muscles to actively move into positions; and jogging breaks in between stretches means muscles are being looked after.

Ball skills

By this point, players will be keen to get going with a ball at their feet, although your plans should be equally focused on mobility and fitness. A simple game of dribbling and shooting is a way to begin.

It’s a straightforward session and requires little instruction, but players get the ball to feet, and finish with a shot.

Or just a simple dribbling and turning skills game to give them a good skills workout

Touch and technique

Now separate the players into twos or threes, and work on short-distance tasks, such as one-touch serve and returns.

Mix the tasks up so that each player rehearses using the inside and outside of his foot, as well as his head, chest and knees. And always switch partners so players don’t just practise with their mates. Ideal for this are these two games of passing and moving:

Small-sided game

Always finish any session with a competitive small-sided game because players love to put what they’ve rehearsed into practice. But use a small playing area – it’s conceivable players will be tired at this point, and restricting the size of the area means everyone’s involved. This tic tac toe game is great for that or try a more physical game if your players are still raring to go:


Ensure players warm down properly. Take this opportunity to assess what they’ve done in the session, get feedback, and outline what you’ll be covering next session.

What to look out for

On the first session back, you shouldn’t be expecting too much from your players but you’ll instantly be able to assess who has kept themselves in shape and who’s been enjoying their break a little too much!

It’s an interesting and exciting time for a coach because you can draw a line under any frustrations from the first part of the season and focus on the year ahead.




No.1: Application
Your players have had a break from the rigours of training. But now they’re back in the swing of things, it’s important they take things seriously. The first training session back should set a precedent for the rest of the season, so get their focus now and it should remain.

No.2: Hydration
It’s the middle of summer and undoubtedly hot, remember to have plenty of water on standby for your players. Drinks breaks should be taken regularly throughout the session because fluids not only help performance, but concentration as well.

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