Tis the Season – To Do What?
By Mike Freitag
CSA Director of Coaching
The fall and high school seasons have come to an end and we are now entering the Holiday Season. Sure, it will be a wonderful time with family, friends, and presents but what about soccer? What am I to do?
Whether you are a player or coach this is still a time in which you can stay in touch with the game and improve. Here are some ideas to consider to make sure you get your soccer fix:
• Individual Ball Work – The fields may be covered with snow, but that does not mean that you can’t get with the ball. A garage, driveway, or even a gym floor offer areas where you can get with your ball and improve your touch. You can juggle, or perform fast footwork activities such as Coerver moves. Just staying in touch with the ball will help you get ready for the spring season.
• Fitness – If you can’t find a place to utilize the ball you can always work on your fitness. You can go for a run if conditions are safe. Strength can be addressed through activities such as pushups, pull ups, sit ups, etc. You can find some type of activity that will help you gain a competitive advantage and stay fit.
• Watching the game - Most of us are fortunate enough to view high level games on TV. Whether it is watching the Premiership, La Liga, or Serie A you have the opportunity to watch top level players and teams. There is a transfer that will help your game by watching soccer at this level.
• Indoor – Many of you are fortunate to be in teams that have set up indoor soccer for you during these winter months. This is a great opportunity to work on your individual skills. Whether it is in an indoor rink or playing futsal on a gym floor these are great occasions to develop technique and decision making.
• Nerf Soccer at Home – Don’t let your mom know I made this suggestion, but ask for a Nerf soccer ball for Christmas, and find a safe place where you can play with it at home. I am not responsible for any broken lamps!
• Reading – There are all kind of books that can be beneficial. I am going to recommend one – Mind Gym – An Athletes Guide to Inner Excellence by Gary Mack.
• Wall Ball – If you can find a wall where you can kick a ball against it, it is a great way to develop your kicking and receiving skills.
• Good Nutrition and Sleep – Continue -- or start, to eat right and get the proper amount of sleep. If you aren’t addressing these important habits already, it may be the time to start.
• Practice – If you are able to secure an indoor facility, or if the weather is nice and you can get outside, this is a great time to emphasize technique. During the competitive season we often concentrate on team development and don’t find enough time for technical development. This is the time to focus and focus on repetition.
• The Web – We are all looking to become a better coach. Today, there are all kinds of websites dedicated to coaching development. You can always find new activities and thought provoking articles.
Check out these great websites:
o www.uefa.com - The Training Ground
You can also check out the CSA website for upcoming US Soccer Coaching License Courses.
• Watch the Game – Just like players, you can learn a lot by watching high level soccer.
• Reading – (Yes, Reading) There are books about soccer activities, methodology, psychology, that will help you grow as a coach (and sometimes a soccer parent).
Here are a few books to consider adding to your reading list:
o Changing the Game: The Parent's Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes, and Giving Youth Sports Back to our Kid by John O’Sullivan
o Dutch ‘Total Football’: How the Dutch Created ‘Total Football’ Their Tactics, Drills, and Coaching Methods by Terry Michler
o Teambuilding: The Road to Success by Rinus Michels
The most important thing to remember is to take time to recharge your batteries, and get pumped up for the next season. Think about where your team is now, and how and where you want to be next season. I want to wish everyone -- players and coaches -- the best this Holiday Season. It is a time for loved ones, but don’t forget your other love – soccer!