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.
In the last post we looked at trends we have observed over the last decade in high school girls soccer, basically showing a loss of athleticism and increase in injury rate during the high school season. But if we step back and look at the bigger picture you will see another trend with the high school girls. As we have shown in other posts, the Game Speed Test Scores (combined score of Skill, Speed/Agility and Fitness) seem to drop off after the Freshman year. The graph below shows this in detail.
But this doesn’t have to be the case…
Drawing from the data in the above graph, we pulled out the 78 girls that had spent time in our training program (1-2x per week for 6-9 months), and we have shown a very different trend (as shown in the graph below)…
What can we learn from this information? We know that females tend to be fully mature by age 15 and the natural gains in athleticism that they have enjoyed over the first 15 years of their lives are a thing of the past. From this point on, they will need to work even harder to make improvements. But as we have shown over the past decade, it IS possible to make these gains…IF you put in the effort.
Training Program Goals and Ideas:
With every player that comes into our facility we have the following goals:
- Reduce the Risk of Injury
- Improve Fitness and Recovery
- Develop a Confidence in Speed/Agility Movement Patterns
- Strengthen these Movement Patterns
- Enhance Focus During Skilled Tasks – Anticipate, Recognize and React
- Play at a Faster Pace with Higher Skill for Longer Periods of Time
Although we won’t get into the acute details of our program in this post, we do have hundreds of post that cover many of these aspects on the TRAINING IDEAS AND DISCUSSIONS page, as well as several eBooks with educational video links.
The program for the Spring High School Season will be slightly different than the program during the club season. Due to the high number of games and training sessions, fatigue during the high school season is usually very high. But don’t confuse fatigue with fitness, just because the players are tired does not mean they are fit. Mental, as well as physical fatigue, may actually lead to a decrease in fitness level with many players as the season progresses. Increase in fatigue, with a decrease in fitness level can create the perfect storm for injuries.
So the first step is to provide a program that enhances overall fitness without increasing fatigue (both mental and physical). We offer programs every night throughout the week (Monday – Thursday) with very low volume strength activities that focus on intensity and power…giving us the biggest bang for the buck. Then we have an open gym time on Saturday mornings for the players to come in and work on specific areas of need. Most programs usually have weekends off, so this is a good time to have a mental / physical recharge session.
- Plyos, Footwork and Quickness
- Powerful Expression of Strength
- Low Volume Speed / Fitness Intervals
- Simple Ball Skills in a Confident Rhythm
This workout may only take 35-45 minutes, and once the players know that they won’t be tired from the workout (mentally or physically) they are much more willing to come in and train. We don’t progress the exercises in terms of complexity, and in fact, we actually decrease the complexity throughout the season. So for example, if a player was doing barbell cleans during the off-season, we would digress this to weighted jump squats with the Fusion Sport Jump Mat with lighted targets.
In this exercise example, we can increase the load to 30% of their back squat max, or if we don’t have a max on a player, we will let them increase the load as long as they are still able to hit 50% of their max vertical jump. We have shown increases of 3-4 inches in 6 weeks using this format with no soreness the following day. This would be one way we are able to stay powerful (or increase) power throughout the season by decreasing the complexity of the exercise.
In the next post in this series we will cover the topic of exercise selection in more detail. If you are a local player interested in staying in top shape during the high school season, click here to register for training classes ($65/month – Unlimited Sessions).