If you’re a parent like I am, most of us strive to create every opportunity and environment for success for our children, whether it’s on or off the turf. From schools to friends to what sports teams they play for, it’s our job to put the world at our kids’ feet.
For soccer enthusiasts, the summer season can create a dilemma when it comes to ongoing training. With summer travel, temperatures that can reach triple digits, and simply wanting to let our kids relax and have fun, it can be difficult to decide what kind of soccer workouts work best for your child in the hottest months. As a former professional soccer player turned dad of young soccer players, here are four options that can work well:
- Speed and Agility
Focusing on speed and agility and working on running form and movement patterns can be a great way to stay active. These types of programs teach the athlete how to move efficiently and should therefore help reduce the risk of injury. It is important, however, to have the right expectations about these programs and how they relate to soccer, especially when it comes to youth. Reducing the 40-yard dash time by fractions of a second should not be the goal and is not something that top soccer programs focus on. Increases in speed and power are purely a bonus.
- Personal Training
Some parents opt to focus on doing individual sessions with a coach for their soccer players. This can be a great opportunity for the player to work on developing and progressing in areas which were noted as deficient during the season. Less stress and structure, with a more fun environment (and training in small numbers) can often result in the greatest gains in player development.
- Summer Leagues/Games
Continuing to play for soccer teams and participating in tournaments over the summer is an option to keep the athlete connected with the sport. Statistically, this group of athletes has the quickest/highest burnout rate, so that risk is something to be aware of. Summer leagues and other summer pickup games are best for athletes who enjoy being on the field all year round, and should be driven by the athlete’s desire to play and not by the parent. In general my recommendation during the summer months is at least a few weeks of complete rest from soccer.
- Playing Other Sports
This training option is my personal favorite. Recent studies have highlighted the benefits of playing other sports and cross-training, and in a similar way to speed and agility, players get to work on different movement patterns and forms of coordination. Trying out different forms of sport and other games helps to make them an all round athlete. As a matter of fact, most of the U.S. women’s soccer team, the 2015 Women’s World Cup Champions, were multi-sport athletes growing up.
Andy Hylton is a P.A. (Physician Assistant) in OrthoCarolina’s Pineville office and also has a degree in Athletic Training. He has played professional soccer in the U.S. and England, and also played for Great Britain’s soccer team in the World University Games (Olympics for students) in Beijing, China. Andy treats all ages and orthopedics needs, particularly sports medicine injuries and conditions.