Sunday, April 25, 2010

Move of the Month: Drag Across Body

This month we're featuring a move called the Drag Across Body.

Check out the video demonstration above.

Wishing you an excellent soccer season!

Clayton Rosario

The Importance Of Recovery In The Off-Season

The purpose of this article is to discuss the importance of the offseason recovery phase, a component of the annual periodization plan which is too-often neglected in Canadian youth soccer. Periodization simply refers to dividing the year up into planned phases of training, with a different emphasis in each phase.

Youth coaches in Canada should look to model their phases of training after professional European clubs, which exemplify the highest standards of youth development programs in the world. Even at the adult professional level, top European teams play a season consisting of only 38 competitive matches per year. Furthermore, the typical competitive season (competitive phase) for European teams consists of about 1 game per week for 9 months (September to May).

Taking into account the physical and psychological stresses that youth players are faced with throughout adolescence, youth teams should structure their annual plan around a competitive season lasting a maximum of 8 months, with no more than 1 game per week during this time period. A proper off-season recovery phase should last at least 1 month, with minimal training and no games, to allow players a mental and physical break, and to facilitate full physiological recovery.

The off-season should be followed by a transition into training (transitional phase) with a focus on technical development and physical conditioning, to prepare players for the next competitive season. Players should feel rested and refreshed at the end of the recovery phase, and should be highly motivated to resume training in the transitional phase.

Of course hard work and consistent training is necessary to optimize performance, but more is not always better. By taking into account the rest and recovery needed for young athletes you will notice a significant improvement in their performance on the field.

Stay Fit, Train Smart, Play Hard!

Josh Hewett

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pre-Game Exercises May Improve Performance

A recent study, done by a group of researchers from the United Kingdom, has proven that soccer players may actually perform skills and game-related activities better when their muscles are fatigued. That’s according to their study, Performance of Soccer Passing Skills under Moderate and High-Intensity Localized Muscle Fatigue (Lyons Et. Al., 2008), which had physically active male college students performed alternating split squat jumps (see video above), prior to a soccer-specific skills test. This exercise was used because it fatigues many of the same muscle groups (glutes, quadriceps and hamstring muscles) that are typically used and fatigued during soccer.

To measure the effects of muscular fatigue on skilled performance, researchers used a modified Loughborough Soccer Passing test, which requires players to dribble and pass a ball aimed at set targets in a limited amount of time. Players were required to perform a set number of split squat jumps, corresponding to their individual “moderate” (70%) and “high intensity” (90%) values, expressed as a percentage of their maximum values established during baseline testing. As a measure of control, players also performed the passing test at “rest” or, not preceded by any split squat jumps.

The results of the study showed that the players in the “moderate” fatigue group performed better on the passing test, as compared to both the “rest” and “high intensity” groups.  The players in the “high intensity” group had the lowest scores on the test, as represented by the longest average times to complete the test, and the highest average number of penalties incurred.

These results demonstrate that performance of complex motor skills, such as passing in soccer, require athletes to reach a certain level of arousal and fatigue for optimal performance. By performing an explosive power movement like split lunge jumps at low intensity you may also be activating your nervous system, which can improve performance.  Beyond a certain threshold, however, higher levels of arousal and fatigue will lead to a decrease in performance of complex motor skills.

This is yet another reason why it is so important to perform your dynamic warmup activities (which I demonstrated for you here: ) before a game or practice!

Play hard!