|I had an email from a parent concerned that his children (one U8, the other U10)
were playing soccer four or five times per week during the off season, with their
teams and in various clinics and that this was perhaps too much.It poses the question, is there such a thing as 'too much soccer?'
My view is that playing four or five matches and/or training sessions per week is too much at any
time of the year, let alone the off season!
For one thing, you have to
consider the physical strain that such an amount of exercise exerts on
a growing body. Over-training does not allow enough time for minor
injuries to ligaments and joints to heal and serious, long-term
injuries can result.
Young children are particularly at risk because
their bones and ligaments sometimes grow at slightly different rates,
causing an imbalance that makes it even easier for small "niggles" to
turn into long-term medical conditions. Shin splints (medial tibial
stress syndrome or MTSS) is an example.
Interestingly, research by
the International Federation of Sports Medicine (FIMS) has shown children are only likely to sustain stress-related injuries if they
play too much organised football – they can play with their mates in the
park all day, every day without any problems.
This is probably because in
the park they can stop and rest when they want to. There's no coach
urging them on from the touch line.
In addition, too much
organised football can simply take the fun out of the game. We all need a
break... even coaches!
want to keep your players active in the off season, why not set up a
few goals in your local park and let the children play without any
coaching or instruction from adults? Free play is an essential part of
a child's learning process and we shouldn't be afraid to let go of the