Pre-Season Soccer Training – The Basics

Effective pre-season training is important for all soccer players of any age, whether you play for a team in the Premier League or your local college team and the work done in pre-season can define the competitive season ahead, making the difference between winning trophies or being also-rans.

The Pre-season soccer training schedule should be planned out by the coach in order to maximise each session. Ideally training should begin at least five to six weeks before the season actually starts.

Each training session should start with a thorough warm-up taking care not to strain any muscles in early pre-season. Ideally each session should begin with a five minutes gentle jogging followed by gentle static stretching, followed by more jogging followed by a more intensive stretching session, while taking care not to over stretch and cause damage to muscles, tendons or ligaments.

Stretching for soccer should include all major muscle groups, with a mixture of dynamic and static stretches. Dynamic stretching exercises that are perfect for soccer and include swinging the arms and circling the shoulders, twisting the upper body and swinging the legs as if kicking an imaginary ball, be careful not to over stretch with these exercises. Static stretches do not involve movement of the joint and are essential for the quadriceps and hamstrings. Ballistic stretches which involve bouncing to maximise the stretch are no longer advocated and should be avoided.

Running is excellent for aerobic conditioning and should be encouraged as improved fitness will pay dividends later in the season, this should involve distance work, sprinting and running that involves work with the soccer ball. Dribbling the soccer ball around cones or across a defined area will improve conditioning, speed and ball control at the same time.

Work with the soccer ball can be extended by spending time controlling the ball with the feet, knees and head, a perfect way to practice this is to divide players into pairs and have one player throw the ball while the other controls and returns to his partner .

Each session can be completed with a short game possibly integrating two touch soccer which will improve ball control and passing accuracy and also encourage thinking and movement off the ball. Following the game a cool down with stretching should take place to minimise aching and tired muscles which will aid recovery for your next session.

During early pre-season is it important not to over exert the players and to make the sessions fun which will motivate if players are tired not too push them too much, this can result in injury and lack of enthusiasm. Another important factor for any training session is adequate hydration, ensure all the players have a water bottle and keep adequately hydrated throughout the training session.

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