Jul 18th, 2013
Category: Athletic Performance Training
FMF Blog #11 – Overtraining in Youth Soccer
In my previous blog I lightly covered three different examples of overtraining. As a reminder here are the five overtraining signs aforementioned: fatigue; muscle soreness; forgetfulness; lack of motivation; and lastly injuries. Throughout the blog I am going to be discussing youth soccer overtraining and solutions to preventing overtraining.
Youth soccer is one of the most popular youth organized sports. Its popularity has lead to an explosion of soccer clubs, including numerous competitive programs and ex-players as coaches. These more experienced coaches and competitive leagues continue to increase young soccer players IQ levels by providing them with a better understanding of the game. However, coaches feel that the volume of practices each week, as well as the amount of competitive tournaments, must be increased to increase soccer performance.
One common practice is to take youth soccer players through advanced soccer and agility drills that they have done themselves and/or viewed on YouTube. These movements require extreme coordination, skill, neurological development and strength. The coaches often focus on the coordination and skill but miss out on the neurological and strength development, which in turn leads to injury and/or a lack of results.
By skipping strength and neurological development in their training programs youth soccer players are developing more injuries and a reduction in athletic performance. Common injuries are osgood slaughters, ACL tears and meniscus tears. All of the following can be avoided through range of motion (ROM) strength training and neurological development training.
Soccer requires a small ROM that leads to tightness within the fascia tissue and a lack of muscular development. Sport specific imbalances and tightness cause numerous injuries. Development, strength, athletic performance and injury prevention all lie in ROM training. Therefore, exercises should focus on proper technique and with a larger ROM. Examples are split squats, lunges, bridges, pushups, planks, blood hounds and many other exercises. I suggest that each coach select two days per week (at minimum) to focus on sprinting technique training (i.e. skipping), strength / bodyweight training (i.e. split squats), neurological development (i.e. blood hounds), and agility training (i.e. agility ladder).
A specific daily warm up can be helpful in this manner. A warm up should include sprint technique, body weight strength, lateral movements, agility / balance movements, and coordinative muscle actions. The warm up should run in duration from about 15-20 minutes at minimum. Select age appropriate exercises by performing an analysis on the limitations of the group / team; this day and age limitations can be significant.
The technological age is the main cause of the limitations in youth soccer players. In the past, youth would entertain themselves through physical activity and yard work, which results in general development. However, in today’s day and age ROM / development training must be focused on separately. Simply playing soccer is no longer enough, coaches and parents must do more.
Perform a warm up that consists of sprint technique, strength, development, agility and balance work
Perform development / athletic performance / strength training at minimum two times per week
Training age appropriate exercises – asses the group / team as a whole
Copyright Functional Muscle Fitness LLC © 2013