By Brendan Hall
No pitch? No problem. Here’s how you can keep your players motivated and engaged with some unique workout plans.
The programs thriving best during this pandemic are the ones who know how to turn a disadvantage back into an advantage.
That means not only taking the time to re-evaluate your program’s philosophy and game model, but also how you implement strength and conditioning strategies. Lots of teams across different sports are taking advantage of video conferencing to adjust their player development for the better. Here are six ways you can level up during this time.
Get Back to Basics with Remote Workouts
We’ve found that many teams across different sports are embracing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) as a team over video conferencing.
There are plenty of benefits to this workflow. These workouts are often short, lasting under an hour, and place emphasis on core strength, cardio and body-weight exercises that translate across different disciplines of sport.
If there are players that can’t make it, you can record these sessions and upload them to Hudl for them to do later. Short duration is key in these workouts, so if they can’t do it live, make sure they have a good stopwatch at the ready.
Be sure to mix it up. Players are more engaged with a workout plan when there’s an element of competition thrown in there. A quick YouTube search will uncover thousands of free workouts for you. Or if you like, here at Hudl we came up with this public document of various remote workouts that can all be done in just a half-hour. Pick one and go!
Embrace the Elements with Cardio
Not having access to a field shouldn’t be an excuse to avoid fitness. Instead, it should be a reason to expand your horizons.
Take the USL club OKC Energy FC, for instance. Unable to access a pitch for fitness training, assistant coach Leigh Veidman sent them to a nearby lake, where they were able to easily maintain social distancing and were more motivated to go a few extra miles (Because hey, who doesn’t love a good run with some scenery in the background?).
Plenty of free apps like Runkeeper or Strava are available to track distance, time and pace. Or if you’re up for it, you can try legendary running coach Jerry Schumacher’s patented “Badger Miles”, which measure distance by seven-minute pace — regardless of how short or far you actually go.
Keep Running at Optimal Speed
Endurance runs are great for athletes in any sport. But for soccer, what you do with your speed and agility work will get you ahead.
Some say you lose your speed quicker than you lose your strength. You definitely lose it quicker than your endurance. So even if your players can’t get out for a long run, they should at least work on sprints in their driveway or yard.
Even if you don’t have a stack of cones to lay across the yard for agility work, you can use any household objects. SoccerCoachingPro has some great ideas for cone drills your players can do at home, including change of direction exercises and ladder drills.
Fine-Tune Your Technique Training
Hopefully, your players all have access to a ball. Getting touches in every day is better than nothing, but consider setting a daily goal of 500 to 1,000 touches. Pending the age level, these could be simple dribbling drills or wall passes, or more advanced techniques that mirror the pros. Either way, most athletes can benefit from building up their weaker foot.
There are thousands of drills on YouTube that you can leverage. Message the team a link to the “video of the day” via Hudl Messenger and hold them accountable by requiring them to upload a video of them completing the drill to your Hudl Library.
Another way to hold them accountable while keeping things fun is to hold competitions. Here’s a few ideas:
- Most juggles in a row — feet only
- Most juggles in a row — head only
- Most juggles in a row — left foot only
- Most juggles in a row — right foot only
- Most around the world without letting the ball drop
Or you can even try the famous “Pele 7” juggling challenge, as demonstrated here by TechneFutbol’s Yael Averbuch. TechneFutbol also offers some great paid plans.
Make it Better with Video Review
The next best thing to playing the game is watching the game, so raise your team’s soccer IQ by reviewing past games. IMG Academy Technical Director Andy Thomson says his program was able to get at least 90 percent engagement from their athletes and found them making better in-game decisions by breaking down their performance using the IMG game model.
Give them assignments to break down games and have them present to the team, or to you or another coach in one-on-one reviews. You can even incorporate footage from the best in the world. Cincinnati’s David Robertson sees this is a great opportunity to stoke their passion for the game.
And don’t forget to add in some humor. Consider throwing in some bloopers to your film review, or some funny moments from your game footage to keep the mood light. Connecting moments to laughter is a great tool for memorization.
Get to Know Your Players
Part of player development is giving your players an environment where they know people care about them. Given recent events, it’s never been more imperative to create a positive outlet for everything that’s on their minds, and to let them know they are supported.
At Georgia Gwinnett College, head women’s soccer coach Mike Giuliano sends his players personalized video messages each week reminding them why he is grateful for them, and how he sees them as a leader in his program, using specific examples. Remember, your athletes know when you’re not being authentic — personalize your one-on-one communication as much as possible.
As we noted in previous installments of this series, your players won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Why reserve your video analysis software just for reviewing games? You unlock the full power of film when you incorporate it in every facet of your program development.