*This post contains affiliate links.
There is so much information on how to train and what to do at training, but I fail to see as much when it comes to what should happen before a training session.
Therefore, in this post, I will focus on the four areas players should focus on, helping them better prepare for soccer tryouts, practice, or games.
If you want a great day of practice, it is vital to get a proper warm-up. I have seen players mess around before their warm-up and have a terrible day of training or, even worse, hurt themselves.
Seems counterproductive, huh?
I usually require my players to come to every training session 15 minutes early so they can spend enough time warming up properly.
Of course, they will sometimes complain about that.
But when I inform them that NFL All-Pro JJ Watt often spends 30 minutes to an hour warming up his body to prepare for a game, they tend to quiet down.
If one of the best defensive players in the NFL takes that much time to warm up, then my players can certainly spare 15 minutes.
Here are three tips I give players for a proper warm-up:
Move: Try to spend 5-10 minutes getting moving. You can jog at the park, bike at the gym, or even jump rope if you're at home and don't have much space. The point is to move to help your body know that you will be working hard.
Dynamic Stretching: Our coaches would have us do static stretches when I was going through youth soccer. As I rose through the ranks, our physical trainers informed us that dynamic stretches were better suited to prepare us for training—for example, high knees, butt kicks, carioca, shuffles, and opening and closing the gate.
Mobility: As soccer players, we must ensure our core and hip are ready to play. My college coach educated our team on ensuring our hips and glutes were activated so we would not have problems with our knees or ankles. He gave us all looped bands, which we would do walks with to help train our glutes to fire. Some exercises to do: looped band marches, sideways walks, etc.
Thank goodness most players know that they must warm up, and there is a lot of information showing players how to do it. However, a proper warm up is just one way to prepare for soccer.
I like to break pre-hab work into two areas: Stretching and extra work.
Players need to make sure that they are taking care of their bodies. As much as players dislike it, I always end our session at least 5 minutes early so players can stretch and do accessory work such as foam roll after a hard session. Try using a lacrosse ball to work out any knots in your muscles.
Hopeful, if your player gets into the habit of it early, they can help reduce the risk of injury. But the fieldwork will only get you so far if they do not have the proper fuel, which leads to our next point...
Another way to ensure proper preparation is to ensure that your player focuses on their nutrition. Soccer is a demanding sport, and your body needs the fuel to perform at its best.
I highly recommend Jaimee Cooper aka The Soccer Nutritionist. She knows much more in that arena than me and will be able to give your player accurate nutrition info regarding training.
The final place players need to account for is...
Your player needs to make sure that they get enough rest.
They need to consistently get a good night's sleep, not just before a significant practice or game. So many players always neglect their sleep. Unfortunately, in our culture, we tend to see sleep as something to be conquered or that strong people need less of it.
That could not be further from the truth.
Sleep deprivation will negatively affect your player's performance.
If they struggle with
Encourage your player to follow these tips:
Stop drinking any caffeine later in the day.
Shut off-screen time late at night.
Try to follow a night time routine that will allow you to focus and relax after a hard day.
For example, Nightly Hygiene routine, Reading, journaling, meditating, Listing out things they need to get done, and then they can finally get into bed and start falling asleep.
If your player takes the time to focus on these 4 areas, they will be much better prepared for soccer tryouts, practices, and games.
What areas should your player focus on? Does your player need help improving in these areas?
I would love to hear about it. Set up a time to chat!