Sometimes I am asked, “Why do kids train year-round? Doesn’t that wear the kids out? Don’t you run out of material?” You would think that the most obvious answer would be to help kids get ahead, but that is not the reason. Players like Pele and other greats would play soccer 6-7 hours per day. Most of this was playing with the ball on their own or playing “street soccer”. Many of the kids I’ve trained over the past decade trained with me year round. Not to get ahead, but because they love to improve in the sport they love. Don’t think you personally have to train year round. Do what’s best for your family. This article is just to explain that playing year round isn’t too much for their bodies.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Lao-tzu
Planting the skill into your muscle memory
When it comes to building muscle memory you have to know it takes learning it slow and correct.
After that it takes reps, correction and reminding or remembering what’s wrong and right.
Knowledge is not useful if form is not habitually implanted…
Example: When learning how to strike the ball with the laces, you want to first learn proper striking mechanics with the laces – like this.
Most movements and skills are not natural, therefore teaching correct form is key.
Players have to then be patient and understand some things take hours to get down, while other things they’ll get down right away.
Read this article to learn more about the importance of muscle memory in soccer/futbol.
Always room for improvement
At GFT we train over a thousand kids per year [Online and In-person]. Some of them train all year and some of them only do Fall or Spring training.
Then you have some who only play for their team and then come to our Summer soccer camps.
Either way, I do this full time allowing me to support my family. I love helping people and watching people grow in the sport we love and share.
Some of the trainees I have or still train play professional soccer or college soccer. Some at every age play on the US Soccer teams. Every single one of those players wants to keep improving so bad. This is the attitude you need to have if you want to do well in what you love.
There has to be that mindset of knowing you have to do certain things over and over to get what you want.
Story of the bamboo tree
There is a story of a man who watered a bamboo tree for 5 years before it ever showed green.
Finally after 5 years it grew over 50 feet in 5 weeks…
So the question is “how long did it take for the tree to grow, 5 years or 5 months? Or was it 5 years and 5 months?
So yes, soccer is like this and we have to put in work week after week before we sometimes see what we have been working for. Be patient and keep believing in yourself and what you do.
To stay sharp on the ball
Some kids are coming off an injury or low season of playing time or are going into a season and need extra ball touches.
Soccer is not like basketball or football where you retain so much of your skills, even if you don’t practice.
Every week or extra day you take off of soccer you become more clumsy with the ball at your feet.
Yes, every player needs 1 or 2 days off of activity, but if you take off weeks, months or seasons you will lose skill.
Taking off a season of soccer
Taking a season off of soccer, while continuing to practice skill on your own or with a trainer won’t hurt development at all. As long as the training is good.
I believe and know through my teaching/training experience that kids can take off a whole season, and do other sports and still get ahead in soccer.
Think about doing all the right soccer skill drills on your own for even 30 minutes a week, compared to someone who goes to team practice twice a week with no good touches.
It’s all about the proper soccer training and mentality.
To stay fit & prevent injury
One of the main reasons kids get injured is from too many games… I find that the ones who get injured most are those who play multiple sports in middle and high school.
In spite of the extra competitiveness around the U.S. in youth sports, many kids are not getting the right type of training.
It’s way too much fitness nowadays! There are coaches who make 11 year olds run 9 miles in one day!! That’s terrible…
To keep the muscles healthy and strong it will help if you can do some body weight strength training at home a few days per week.
When it comes to technical training, a lot of it needs to be activation… In other words, light work that keeps you sharp, but does not cause injury due to too much strain on the body.
Get a good warm-up at all times, especially during the winter months.
To teach players how to protect themselves
Protecting players from injury is obviously important…
2 things you need to know:
- These 20 tips on heading the ball – video
- How to use your arms when dribbling or trying to steal the ball. Learn how to be more aggressive on the field
When players have good habits of performing the moves with proper technique the player is able to control the ball while protecting their own head and body from injury.
Train to have the right mindset
One of the most important things to know is – everyday isn’t fun. There comes a time (age) when some practices aren’t fun. It might be when you’re tired, having pain, activities you miss to soccer or for many – fitness days.
The key is knowing that all the good outweighs the bad. Then knowing you have to go through hard times to enjoy the success. It hurts to be good.
When you train do it with a purpose. That is to improve each day. You can’t go out to practice just to practice. It needs to be done with the mindset to get a little better each time. The days add up and for those who put in the work, you’ll see the fruit of your labor.
To have FUN when you train year round
This is the most important and a top reason parents bring the kids to GFT. We look at the training as a long-term relationship. Not only the level of play on the field, but the character development off the field.
The opportunity to speak positive reinforcement and mindset to kids is humbling and many parents tell me that the training the kids receive from us each week is the highlight of their week.
Club soccer is a year round sport
Kids play soccer year-round and we train all ages and skill levels, making it always soccer season at GFT. Although, players do take a few months off for rest [including holidays, inclement weather, travel, etc.].
We encourage taking rests and breaks as development should not be rushed.
If a kid does not play in the season, was injured, switched teams, etc. they need to get individual attention.
One of the most important thing to remember is to be consistent in and out of season.
Remember, just as you can’t summon character, energy, or physical fitness at a moment’s notice. Neither can you instantly create soccer stamina or endurance or strength or the right mindset.
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