A good pre-season is a
must for all professional players in the Premier League and Football
League - but is also hugely valuable for all amateur and junior players.
Here Reading FC Academy
manager Eamonn Dolan describes how he would begin to prepare a youth
soccer team for the new season.
WEEK ONE - GETTING STARTED
Regardless of age and ability the basic principles of a pre-season stay
Every training session should start
with a good warm-up but for the first one
of pre-season I would probably make it a little longer than usual, perhaps
I'd be tempted to lead the first part of
this, with five minutes of jogging followed by five minutes of
stretching (which involves holding a position).
Follow this with another five minutes of
jogging and five minutes of dynamic stretching (using speed of movement,
momentum and active muscular effort to produce a stretch).
The jogging gives the players the chance
to have a bit of a catch up if they have not seen each other for a while
and allows you to make an initial assessment of the fitness your squad is
Running is good for aerobic conditioning
but can hit the body quite hard, so I would not do too much of this.
After the warm-up set up a ball circuit.
Players are always motivated by sessions with the ball - and not only find
it more enjoyable but tend to work harder than drills that do not involve
any ball work.
off a square with each side four metres in length and position a player at
all four corners. Use two footballs for this drill.
One player dribbles at his own pace from
one corner to the next, where a player without a ball takes over and
dribbles to the next corner.
Players can regulate themselves during
the drill dependent on how fit they are feeling and a coach can see when a
player is fatiguing.
There are lots of variations available
using this square - for example if the players are looking in good shape
you can always get them to dribble to two bases.
Next I'd consider working on basic
skills. Split the players into pairs, one serving and the other working on
his first touch. Work through all the key surfaces like the foot, inside
and outside, both knees, chest and head.
Finish the session with
a small sided game, perhaps dividing
your players into two sides but using a relatively small area.
When using a smaller area players can
naturally take a rest if they are feeling tired.
players warm down properly.
During the first week try to make sure
that the players do not over exert themselves as their enthusiasm after
several weeks off can often get the better of them.
Another key issue is
hydration. This is really important. Make
sure that all of your players have some kind of water bottle and are
drinking water throughout the session. If they do not they will not
perform at anywhere near the level they are capable of doing so.