Many athletes are now in the off-season portion of their soccer season and while the off-season is definitely a great time for rest, recovery and reflection, it is definitely not the time to kick your feet up and backtrack on all of the gains you made this past season. You could argue that off season training is the most important phase of any conditioning plan. Not only does it help athletes recover physically and psychologically, it can be used to address some of the physical and technical imbalances that are inherent with playing competitive soccer.
Most professional athletes have the advantage of getting professional trainers to plan their off-season training program for them. Most everyone else doesn’t have that luxury. That’s why we’ve worked to put together some resources in this issue specifically to help you get better during the off-season.
Here are some resources from our partners and contributors to help you this off-season.
The Guide to Off-Season Training
By Matt Sheldon CEO/Founder of Become Elite
You’ve just finished the last game of regular season; you’re tired, beat up, and sad that it’s over but, luckily, you have another season to look forward to the following year or maybe even in a couple months. Either way, you’ve now entered into the offseason.
We, here at Become Elite, hate the term “off season,” because it implies that you will take this time off from your sport. We do believe every player should relax for 1-2 weeks following the end of the season to let the body fully recover from the grind of the intense work in the season, but to suggest that the following weeks or months should be completely “off” is flat-out wrong.
If you want to become what we call an elite level soccer player you must train like the elite. The professional and collegiate level footballers all follow a strict off-season regimen to improve their game. This article from Become Elite covers what you should emphasize during the off-season and provides a sample online technical training program plan.
Fitness Maintenance Activities
Suggestions of Fitness Activities during the Holiday Break
By John De Witt, Head Sports Performance Coach, Houston Dynamo Academy
The winter season brings about a variety of issues depending upon your personal situation. Some of you may have just entered the post season; others are in the middle of the season; while a third group of players is in preseason. Regardless of your situation, there is a good chance that your teams may have some days off due to the holidays, and you are looking for some ideas of activities that can be performed individually.
This short article has a few suggestions for activities that can be completed outside or indoors that can be used to maintain fitness during time off. However, there are a few things that you should keep in mind when determining your plan.
The Art Of Off-Season Training
By Yael Averbuch
Roughly 150 players from the nine National Women’s Soccer League teams currently find themselves in the off-season. Some have headed overseas on loan deals to clubs in Europe, Japan or Australia, but the vast majority stay rooted to a home base for the six months between N.W.S.L. seasons.
The professional women’s soccer off-season can be a mysterious topic; except for the draft, which was held Friday, it is rarely talked about in the news media. Even the term is misleading; for those of us who aspire to be the best we can be, there is technically never an off-season. For me at least, the downtime between seasons is part of a continuous cycle of improvement.
I think of the off-season as a blank canvas. I can recreate myself as a player, fine-tune areas of my game, sharpen my strengths and attack my weaknesses head-on. It is when I improve most, by taking my development back to the basics, far from the spotlight of games or organized team training sessions.
With the freedom to decide what to do and when, maximizing my growth often comes down to choosing from a seemingly endless menu of training options. I have learned the importance of several principles that I think are critical to the art of off-season training, or improvement of any sort.
By Wayne Harrison
What is the secret of getting really good at something? How do we unlock it? Journalist and New York Times bestselling author Daniel Coyle visited nine of the world’s greatest talent hotbeds when writing his book The Talent Code. This article is a look at player development and the sub-conscious mind by Wayne Harrison which includes references to theories from Coyle’s book.
Every football player, like every human being, has two distinct parts of the mind whose primary role is thought and recollection: the conscious state and the sub-conscious state. As the names suggest, when you are completely aware of what you are doing, you are letting your conscious state guide you through the process.
The Importance of Off-Season Training
From Performance Conditioning Soccer
By Tom DeNigris, Owner & Director Total Soccer Fitness & Training, LLC
With the Fall Soccer Season coming to a close, coaches should now be organizing their off-season plans. Because of the unpredictable weather here in New Jersey, at Total Soccer Fitness & Training, we look to get into a facility or school gym to conduct our sessions during the off-season months of December, January and February. But inside or outside, off-season training has become an integral part of club soccer. Our theory at TSFT is to use the off-season to hone technical skills, review and practice tactical concepts, and most importantly, work on fitness and endurance both with and without the ball.
We break our sessions down into three phases:
- Basic Fitness
- Technical Fitness
- Tactical/Match Fitness
Before going into any of our drills, we first run the team through a Speed, Agility & Quickness warm-up featuring speed ladders or hurdles, and many times using. Speed ladders and hurdles are both valuable tools to teach proper running mechanics.
Winter Nutrition: Fueling for Cold Weather Exercise
By Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD from The Athlete’s Kitchen
If you take time off from soccer to enjoy winter sports, you want to pay careful attention to your sports diet. Otherwise, lack of food and fluids can take the fun out of your outdoor activities. These tips can to help you fuel wisely for cold weather workouts.
- Cold blunts the thirst mechanism; you'll feel less thirsty despite significant sweat loss and may not “think to drink.”
- Winter athletes (especially those at high altitude) need to consciously consume fluids to replace the water vapor that gets exhaled via breathing. When you breathe in cold dry air, your body warms and humidifies that air. As you exhale, you lose significant amounts of water. You can see this vapor (“steam”) when you breathe.
- Unless you are hot, you do not want to drink icy water (i.e., from a water bottle kept on your bike or outside pocket of your back pack). Cold water can cool you off and give you the chills. The better bet is having an insulated water bottle or a bottle filled with hot sports drink then covered with a wool sock to help retain the heat.