As August approaches many teams in the Midwest United States are starting their preseason program, including my U12 girls. At this age I think it’s important for the kids to have a break during the summer months and have time to just be a kid. This makes preseason even more important because I need to get them in some kind of shape before we get on the field.
Conditioning for soccer has changed a lot since I was in college and 5 miles runs were an accepted preseason tradition. Now condition is much more soccer specific.
The program I use was introduced to me by Scott Moody of Athlete F.I.T. Scott has worked with hundreds of soccer players in the Kansas City area and his web site has educated coaches and athletes around the world. He also has a very useful blog that has been a great resource.
The conditioning program has five stages. The stages can be spread over five weeks or can be down in as little and two and a half weeks. I prefer to complete the stages by doing two sessions a week over two and a half weeks.
In each stage the goal is to cover as much distance as possible and more than you did the last stage. It is best to do these runs on a track where the distance is easily measured. The goal distance that I refer to is for my U12 girls. This would be longer for older players. Here is how the stages breakdown:
Stage 1 - 24 minute run - 2 3/4 miles
Stage 2 - 2 x 12 minute runs (5 minute rest) - 3 miles
Stage 3 - 3 x 8 minute runs (3 minute rest) - 3 1/8 miles
Stage 4 - 4 x 6 minute runs (2 minute rest) - 3 1/4 miles
Stage 5 - 6 x 4 minute runs (1 minute rest) - 3 1/2 miles
Obviously some players will not be able to meet these goal distances initially but the goal for everyone is to steadily cover more distance during the preseason. This will give all of the players a solid aerobic foundation that they can build on throughout the season.
What do you do with your teams during preseason? What have you found works best?