|Pre-season periodization – How much is too much?
The dawn of another outdoor soccer season is approaching, and with it comes the need for youth soccer coaches to begin planning their teams’ pre-season training period.
Typically, although many teams will resume practicing soon after the start of the new year in January, the pre-season period – during which the frequency (number of training sessions per week), volume (amount of time per training session) and intensity (how hard players train in practice) are all significantly increased – will start around 8 weeks prior to the start of the competitive season. Since the typical Canadian outdoor competitive soccer season starts in the month of May, this 8 week pre-season training period will most likely begin sometime in late March or early April.
Most coaches probably understand the importance of a pre-season training period, and how – if it is planned appropriately – it can be of great benefit to their team throughout the duration of the competitive season. A challenge that can come up for coaches when putting together their pre-season, however, is how exactly to plan and implement the physical part of their training regime.
Regarding physical fitness, if the ultimate aim of the pre-season is to get players at or close to their peak level of physical conditioning, then the relationship between frequency, volume, and intensity of training must be carefully thought out during this time period.
Get it right and your team will improve their physical fitness, reduce their risk of injury, and likely out-perform their competition. Get it wrong, however, and you are setting your team up for decreased physical performance, in addition to a significantly increased risk of injury.