High School Vs. Travel Soccer: 4 Tips for Coaches
Ever since Travel soccer teams and leagues were created, the demands became heavier for young soccer players. It's now the standard for them to play for both their high school team, as well as their local club team. While high school play is limited to 3-4 months out of the year, pretty much all travel and club teams play year-round, which includes showcases, tournaments, and camps too. This expectation for kids has not only increased the amount of pressure on them to perform well and gain as much college exposure as possible, but the pressure has also mounted on the coaches of both sides, as they are the ones who can either positively, or negatively effect these players' health and long-term goals.
Most players that are good enough to play on Varsity usually play for a travel team as well. It's hard to blame the players for wanting to compete for both high school and travel teams, as most are looking to play at the collegiate level, and want as much exposure and playing experience that they can get to prepare them for that next level. However, this can become an issue once the high school season starts, because players are usually practicing and playing 7 days a week (between the two teams) for at least 3-4 months straight. Add that on top of the fact that these players have already been competing 3-5 days a week up to the start of the high school season. Talk about a recipe for burnout, injury, and stress!
As a coach, it's important to recognize the players who do compete for both high school and travel teams, and manage them correspondingly. Coaches should never be ignoring the reality of the situation, and running those players as hard as they can, playing them in games as long as they want, and not considering the health and future of the players. With that being said, check out these 4 tips for coaches to help manage conflicts with their dual-team players:
1. Unnecessary Running: These players do not need to be doing wind-sprints at the end of every practice. They practice seven days a week as it is, so rest assured that they are in shape. These players need to be getting the proper rest they need before big games, so running them until they can't run anymore is not going to help your team get the win. This also goes for games too. These players don't need to still be out on the field when your team is up 2 goals in the second half, and don't need to be out there when your team is down by 3 with minutes to go. That just leads to an easier rate of injury.
2. Shorter Practices: 90 minutes should be the maximum time allotted for practices with these players. Most pro teams run a 90 minute practice, so anything more is just asking too much from these young athletes. Be effective in planning these practices, and use those 90 minutes as wisely as possible. Any extra time after that initial 90 minutes is taking away from these kids being able to get homework done, spending time with family, etc.
3. Injury Recovery: There are two different types of players, the ones who will lie about being injured and do anything to get back in the game, and those who act like a stubbed toe is a career-ending injury. It's important to know which players are which, and when it's actually OK to put them back in the game, or allow them to practice again. With that being said, coaches should never ignore trainers' diagnostics or requests, and always allow players to see doctors for advice and help with injury.
4. Scheduling Efficiently: There are some things outside of practicing that are necessary for sustaining a successful program. Team-building allows the team to grow together as one unit. Watching game-film can help the team correct their mistakes from the previous game. Taking up a indoor scrimmage if practice or a game gets canceled can bring more experience to your team. In any case, it's important to time these events and activities effectively, and not to stack the players' plates too tall. Know what these players can handle, especially as they barely have any free time to begin with.
Looking to raise money for your high school or travel soccer team without having to sell products or give up valuable time? Sign your team up for a fundraising campaign today at www.snap-raise.com. Check out the campaign ran by the Jserra Catholic High School Girl's Soccer team that raised $28,381 here!