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  • Writer's pictureErwin

4 Things that must be trained off-season

By: Erwin van Elst

You’re officially rested up from the fall season. The madness of the holidays are behind us.  Winter has settled in, but the reality that the spring season is only weeks away has everyone itching to play. Teams are headed to indoor facilities, basketball gyms, and any space they can find to prepare for the upcoming season. Almost every club will provide some type of training opportunity, yet often a player will train half as often as the outdoor season. So… what should we be working on?

The off-season is a great way to sharpen your skills, build confidence through strengthening your weaknesses, and continue to perfect your strengths.

At the younger ages (6-12 years of age) players practice to perfect the various techniques to improve ball mastery. In essence, ball mastery is what the majority of all players should be working on in the offseason. Ball Mastery is broken down into four parts:

  1. Foot Skills

  2. Passing / Receiving

  3. Finishing

  4. Small sided games (putting it together)

Now is the time to focus on the numerous turns, stops, cuts, and feints with both their strong, but especially the weak foot. Combine moves and mix it up with coordination and agility exercises.

Work on the player’s first touch. Inside, outside, and sole of the foot (both of them!) Mix up types of receiving at their feet and receiving into space. Short volleys, (foot, thigh foot, chest foot, thigh-thigh foot, etc) will also improve a player’s first touch. Quick passing sequences and link play is especially important as players find rhythm working with each other.

Proper technique with finishing, focus on hitting a specific target, rather than space, driving the ball, chipping the ball and proper body mechanics for success should be incorporated as well.

When working on technique, repetition is key. Simplify and slow things down until your players have success. They need to know what success looks like and feels like.  Then you can slowly build it up. Remember, find the positives and coach them.

Small sided games, 1v1, 2v1, building to 4v4 are great ways to apply everything referenced above. Small sided games maximize opportunities on the ball and provide players the platform to incorporate their skills under game speed and game pressure.

The older players, 13 years and older, are training to improve the functional technical specific skills.  Depending on the field position of a player certain skills will have to be perfected.  For example, a center forward will need to sharpen the first touch, receiving the ball with the back to the goal, dribbling in tight spaces, beating the opponent from all angles, and shooting with the left and right foot, etc.

Along with the technical abilities, the player will train to improve the physical qualities during the off-season.  Endurance, strength, agility, quickness, and balance.

All in all, the ‘off-season’ provides a great opportunity for the motivated and passionate player to improve themselves.  Those who do will most certainly make a positive impact the upcoming season.  This an opportune time to focus on the technical aspects of the game that allow the tactical elements to be more successful outdoors. If you can’t complete a pass, deal with a defender, or properly strike a ball, all the x’s and o’s in the world won’t make a lick of difference!

Be patient, make sure your players are challenged, have repetition, find success, and most importantly, have fun!

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