Jul 26, 2018Soccer Prep
The off-season means time for more rest and recovery, but it’s also essential that athletes maintain their fitness. Here’s a guide to help soccer players make the most out of the off-season so that they’re primed and ready when the next season begins.
Off-season soccer training has two main objectives, according to Jacky Anderson of jensreviews.com. The first objective is to physically and mentally recuperate and recharge. The second is to minimize any losses in strength and conditioning built up over the year.
It’s important that athletes use the off-season to recharge, but simply doing nothing will set them back and make the start of the next season a lot harder than it needs to be. Anderson writes that maintaining 50-60 percent of your peak fitness level takes less effort than starting from scratch, which is why athletes need to develop the right routine during the off-season to stay in shape.
Along with maintaining fitness, the off-season is also an opportunity to address any physical imbalances. Most players have a dominant kicking foot, which has probably led to added stress on the muscles, joints, and tendons of that leg. Therefore, it’s important to also focus on stabilizing the neglected muscle groups.
When designing an off-season soccer training program, Anderson recommends that it last between four to six weeks, as this provides enough time for adequate rest without losing fitness gains from the previous year. She also says the focus should be light aerobic endurance exercise and possibly some resistance training.
When it comes to aerobic endurance training during the off-season, Anderson suggests that soccer players avoid too much running, as they do plenty of it during the season. Instead, she suggests participating in different sports and activities, such as swimming, tennis, cycling, or cross-training. She recommends two to three sessions of 20-40 minutes per week. If possible, athletes should try to monitor their heart rate and aim for 60-70 percent of their maximum. (Maximum heart rate is calculated by subtracting your age from 220).
Anderson says that soccer players should be allowed to take a full four-week break from resistance training if they wish to do so. However, doing some resistance training during the off-season is also acceptable and will help them build towards maximum strength over time. If an athlete chooses to do resistance training in the off-season, core stability and stabilization should be the focus.
Two to three sessions per week are suggested. These should be limited to around a half hour and focus on core stability exercises, hamstring/hip extensor exercises, lower back exercises, and functional strength movements, such as using fitness balls and stability boards if the athlete has access to them. Anderson says that strength sessions during the off-season soccer training should be lighter intensity without lifting any maximum loads or performing sets to fatigue.
Lastly, soccer players should also use the off-season to maintain or even improve flexibility. Performing 10 minutes of stretching after workouts can help accomplish this. By setting aside some time for flexibility work, athletes will set themselves up to have a healthy and successful upcoming season.