Many girls who play club soccer have never experienced an extended off-season. They haven’t had more than a few weeks off between the Fall and Futsal seasons or between private training and the Spring kickoff tourney. After six months without competition, many state and local leagues are starting up or have already resumed play. High school seasons are also resuming after a delayed start. Here are a few tips to help you daughter as she returns to competitive play.
The Physical Comeback:
Stretch, Don’t Strain: Remind your athlete (particularly tweens and teens) that her body needs care. Stretching is critical for growing bodies and helps prevent avoidable injuries like hip flexor and quad strains that have become increasingly common. Arrive 15 minutes prior to expected arrival and get in a good stretch on your own. Be sure to stretch again after the game or practice. Here’s a short video featuring Berkshire Soccer Academy Visiting Pro Yael Averbuch demonstrating 4 Best Active Stretches for Soccer Players.
Baby Steps: Since youth sports shut down last March, some athletes have trained on their own at home; others jumped back in this summer with club teams or summer training academies. But few, if any, have trained as intensely as they did before the shut down. When you return to the pitch and begin preparing for competitive play, listen to your body. Start slowly. Don’t expect to immediately return to peak physical condition after six months of altered activity. Your body will thank you as you gradually work your way back into shape.
You Don’t Just Flick A Switch; Be a Good Beginner: Understand that it will take some time to regain your skill level. Coming back after an extended layoff is difficult. Most girls missed out on summer experiences like soccer camp that provide lots of reps. Fewer reps leads to rust. Getting back on the field won’t be “just like riding a bike.” It will take some time to regain your touch. Be ready for that. Make and meet smaller, incremental goals. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
Mentally Prepare For Change:
Expect Things To Be Different and Embrace the Change: Don’t expect everything to be exactly as you left it six months ago. You may be joining a new team or a new club, or your teammates may have undergone physical or emotional changes since you last saw them. Things could look very different even if you return to the same team. Who’s back? Who’s not? New coach? Approach your season with an understanding that your coaches and teammates may be new or changed. This is a chance to embrace the newness and perhaps even take on more of a leadership role on your team.
New Roles: Positions will change from year-to-year for many players. Respect your coach’s decision and run with it. Be a team player. Assume your coach has both your and your team’s best interests in mind. Don’t assume that a new position means you’ve been demoted. You may actually have an equal or more important role and additional on-field responsibilities.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Being a part of a team is exactly that. You have a support system and a coach you can rely on. Make sure to serve as a support for your fellow players and ask for help from coaches and teammates.
“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” Phil Jackson