Previously published on winstarssoccer.com
With over 100 training sessions in the books with the Winstars, I’ve been inspired to write this two part series sharing our current approach towards the physical preparation of our academy players – for college coaches, parents, and more importantly – our players. As a Strength & Conditioning (S&C) coach, my role is to physically prepare athletes for the demands of their sport, with the goal of improving performance and reducing injuries.
Training for sport is completely different than what you’d find in a commercial gym – AND on TV when you see athletes training.
Sport science has helped us push the limits of performance, which have shifted the culture of physical preparation in various sports – particularly in soccer. Many professional teams in Europe’s top leagues employ half a dozen people like myself to take care of their first team. Today’s modern soccer player must be physically fit to compete at the highest levels.
Simply put, physical preparation is important.
Which is why we’ve worked towards incorporating elements of S&C into each practice over the course of a week. Being at every practice over the last 12 months presented the opportunity to always be working on the physical development of our players.
It’s also brought a heightened level of professionalism to our approach – with S&C being commonplace in professional academies around the world.
When developing young soccer players who are pursuing college scholarships, the importance of their physical development cannot be understated. Although a bias perspective (since I am a S&C coach), top coaches understand it’s importance in developing high performance athletes.
Particularly those who are recruiting players for the next level in College.
Don’t believe me? We had a D1 coach come up to recruit a few months back, and he told me “There are a lot of programs that feel if a player has the physical traits, they can bring up their technical and tactical skills. The college game is so fast and physical, if you’re not built for it, you won’t see the field.”
Still don’t believe me? Out of our current graduating group, we have 2 players going to D1 schools next year. They happen to be two of the fastest players on our team (30m sprint test).
Your physical ability, whatever your strength may be – speed, strength, endurance – can be the difference between you and someone of equal technical/tactical ability.
An Integrated Approach.
On the soccer field, through warm ups, cool downs, and 10-20 minute blocks throughout practice, we’ve been able to effectively blend elements of strength, power, speed and conditioning into our soccer practice (details to follow in part 2).
Communication between coaching staff has allowed for this successful integration.
We must have a common understanding of practice intensity/goals in order to marry the two. Like chefs, we have our ingredients (exercises/drills), but we must create the right recipe (structure/program) to bring forward the true flavour of each ingredient in a delicious dish.
The results have been impressive.
Here are a 5 things that stand out in particular:
These are just a few highlights among many from over 100 training sessions and 12 months with the Winstars.
Stay tuned for the next part in this series where I’ll go into detail about the elements of our physical preparation program – including rationale, results and observations, along with some of the ways we are applying it into our daily training environment.