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With sense.

Activity isn't far away. Some clubs within San Francisco and the Bay Area are returning to play in different ways, but we wanted to share some insights we're reading about, and have focused on with our #PlaySFYS programming at home.

1 - Player preparation.

I have been very active in challenging players to be playing as much as possible. My store has a 4 and 8 weeks physical and ball workout plan available. All of my players continue to work through the same workouts in order to be ready to play.

If you don't use my plans, how are you challenging your players to be ready? Recommendation. Start by building excitement about returning to play. Everyone wants to get out and get busy again, and we can harness that to challenge the players to get ready with skill challenges and general soccer work.

Bonus tools - check out YouTube and the video series for 'soccer skill school' or go onto any social media and search 'soccer skills' for ENDLESS tools!

2 - Coach planning.

Soccer Wire recently shared an excellent article about returning to play, and what to expect from your players. I recommend using the next two minutes to read it, here.

There are some key takeaways with focusing on games-based approaches, and focusing on each individual and their RPE. Then also consider what your soccer calendar looks like. How long until you are going to compete and what does the competition look like? Do you need to get fit to qualify for the Champions League, or are you returning to play in the local league and getting ready to do so in 3 months? Then expand the calendar to the end of the season and work backward:

End of season:

Need to peak (think tournament, competition, state cup, etc):

Frequency of Competition:

Frequency of training:

First competition:

Starting point:

How much time do you have between all of the points?

Do you need to get back to training on Monday and work on 'fitness'. I'll bet not and your players will thank you.

To help demonstrate, take a look at the work from @derekmhansen and enjoy the visual...

Look at those initial weeks/cycles. 'A general base' is required before any of the red can really be worked on, but look at 'what will likely happen'.

Plan for it and make it clear to yourself and everyone else and importantly, keep yourself accountable to keep building the yellow before hammering the red. If you plan your timeline you should have no pressing urgency to get fit and ready right away. Your players will thank you, and so will their hamstrings (#1 issue with most players returning to play because their coaches are pushing them HARD). So, how? Play games. If you know periodization, you'll know that you can have a 'less intense' game with more players (6v6 and up) with more time. To compare, intense would be 1v1 for 45+/- seconds. Allow the players to experience the game, the acceleration, the physicality of other players, and lateral movements based on the demand of the game. Allow them to 'warm-up' to playing again and take frequent breaks. Use the time to reacquaint and build up fitness with care. I have played games with rules to add to the intensity and complexity of the game, as often players get 'bored' with play without direction, or rules, or coaching, for some reason. I can't help but think these poor players are overcoached? Added rules, by the way, would be one-touch finishes. Bicycle kicks only. Every player must score to win the game etc. etc.

Lastly, and importantly, explain to them the process because they'll be eager to play and likely annoyed by dynamic stretching between reps and the frequent water breaks. Help them to know what the road to returning to play looks like. Now more than ever we need to look at the bigger picture, especially if you start hammering and everything gets shut down again! Let me know what you think @leedunnesoccer


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