Johnny Warren – Socceroo Legend once said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” As a soccer coach, this quote readily dissects the work you do with your team after the season is over. For your team to truly be competitive, you must work with your athletes year round. Soccer fitness, playing, and even team-building are important aspects of the game which should be approached with enthusiasm and effort. Of course, the details of what type of conditioning you run will vary somewhat depending on the level and the age of your athletes. For example, you will need to push the members of a professional or school soccer team harder than the members of a U-12 rec soccer team. Nonetheless, any team can benefit from the right type of off-season conditioning.
Unfortunately, your players may not all necessarily be thrilled by the prospect of extra workouts. To help keep your players enthusiastic and motivated, try structuring some of your workouts as a game or competition. In fact, one easy way to help your team improve their conditioning during the off season is to enroll them in an futsal league.
Since the fields used are much smaller, the pace of the game is faster, forcing your players to work harder without even realizing it. Of course, playing futsal also helps your players develop their teamwork, strategy and ball handling skills. Keep in mind that since only six players are on the field at a time in indoor leagues, you may wish to enroll two separate teams in the league depending on the size of your regular team.
Having your team play futsal once or twice a week can also be a very effective way to build your team’s conditioning, as well as improve their skill level. Futsal is very similar to soccer except that it is played on a hard court instead of a field with only five players at a time. A futsal ball is also smaller, harder and heavier than a regular soccer ball. This helps develop your players’ power and control during shooting, passing and ball handling.
Out of season training is an important part of any sport. Keeping your players up to speed in their skills and sprinting ability will only make their transition to outdoor play easier. Remember that futsal leagues are great way to mimic the motions of the game, helping them to better their ball skills and pace. Running, cross training and lifting are also intricate parts of an athlete’s speed and strength training. Incorporating all of these methods in cycles will help your players stay in shape and be enthusiastic to return to in-season play, making your job easier and more fun!