This blog series is aimed at the high school player, and will provide you with research, programming tips and information that we have gathered over the years.
For over 10 years we have monitored the year round training of our high school girls, and over that time we have compiled quite a bit of information about what to expect from season to season. Before we get into that, I thought I would share with you the process by which we evaluate our system and create new programs. A format like this helps us focus our attention on specific needs, identifying specific areas of focus and creating background material to reinforce our studies with solid educational content.
- Surveys to Soccer Players and Coaches to Help Identify Scope of Issues
- Identify Specific Physical Requirements of Soccer for this Age Group
- Theorize Predictors of Performance
- Test and Evaluate these Theories
- Create Programs Designed to Combat Identified Issues
Part 1: Identifying the Current Issues Facing our Players
Over the last 10 years we have surveyed coaches and players to find out what problems they are facing and what factors are holding them back. In 2005 we did a survey of 62 teams in the KC Area to observe the occurrence of ACL injury during different times of the year. During HS Season 1 in every 26 girls tore their ACL (approximately 1 girl per team) and in the club season it was 1 in every 110 girls.
We did another study a few years back, and found that girls that also took part in strength and conditioning programs only had decreased their risk to 1 in every 227 girls (10x lower than the high school group surveyed). Our number are now close to 1 in 400 girls. Click HERE to see how we structure our programs to reduce this risk, and rehabilitate confidence and performance when an injury does happen.
We surveyed over 250 high school aged girls in 2009 and asked them to list (in order of importance) what factors they feel are directly related to their on-field success. 92% of the girls surveyed listed Strength/Conditioning or Speed/Agility as #1 on their list. Here is a break down of the responses in a pie chart graph. What we found interesting was than in a follow up survey we asked them how many of them trained speed/agility/strength and conditioning during the season? Only 4% of those surveyed mentioned that they train this during the season.
When asked why, many of them responded with something like…”I didn’t think I would have time,” or “I thought the games would be enough.”
So if most of the players think that their success is based on physical attributes, but they stop training these things during the season, how does this affect them? Over a 5 year period we pulled a small group of high school girls out and trained them 1x per week during the high school season (45 minute sessions after practice). Here are the results when we compared them to the control group that did not participate in speed/agility/strength and conditioning sessions with us.
As you can see the 1x per week training improved overall fitness by an average of 3% compared to the control group average decrease of -2%. This may not seem like much, but when you take two players who were very similar going into the high school season, and one of them comes out 5% better in all the physical categories…that is a big boost going into State Championships and Club Tryouts.
So the problem is very obvious…
During the high school season, players are at a higher risk of injury and show a decrease in physical skills. There are many factors that may contribute to this:
- Too many games
- Lack of focus on strength, speed and fitness
- Lower levels of competition
But in the next few posts, we will look at the physical demands of the girls game, and the solutions we have come up with to combat these issues.