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Coaches Blog

Sam's Blog is a bi-weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. Sam Snow is the Coaching Director for US Youth Soccer.

 

Circuit Training

Sam Snow

The circuit training method to improve fitness and technique is a unique way for the coach to achieve a number of objectives simultaneously.  It also gives the coach a chance to enliven the training routine.  A circuit consists of a number of stations at which different exercises are to be performed.  It can be set up on the pitch or indoors, using a variety of equipment—cones, flag posts, benches, for example.  An imaginative coach will be able to design a circuit on which fitness and technique training can be combined (economical training).  The number of stations in a circuit is determined on the basis of the players' previous training and ability levels.  It is important for the players to perform to the best of their abilities at each station, so jog between stations to lower the breathing and pulse rates, yet stay on the move.  A thorough warm-up should always precede the exercises.  Explain to the players how to execute the exercises at each station before beginning.  Occasionally the coach will put a time limit for the entire circuit to be completed and other times not.

The circuit can be set up to run clockwise or counterclockwise.  The players can go through the circuit in pairs or singles.  When the focus is on fitness then pairs may work best so the partners can push one another.

The circuit system is intended for use over a period of one month, with gradual increases in the number of repetitions and the length of time spent at each station.  However, the coach may also wish to use the circuit for a change of pace during the season or when weather conditions impede other activities.  During the off-season, circuit exercises may be performed daily, especially when the team is unable to train together or to begin training at the same time.  The circuit allows players who arrive late to begin working out without requiring the immediate attention of the coach.

For more information, read the full article here.
 

Water

Sam Snow

Water - 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. {This likely applies to half the world's population.} In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger. One glass of water shuts down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University of Washington study. A lack of water is the number one trigger of daytime fatigue. Preliminary research indicates that eight to ten glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers. Drinking five glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer. Water also transports nutrients, oxygen and waste products throughout the circulatory system and is necessary for bodily functions. Everyone should drink at least six to eight glasses of fluids daily.

Fluids are an extremely important part of a soccer player's diet. You need fluids to regulate your body temperature and prevent over-heating. Drinking more fluids rather than fewer can help prevent over-heating. Fluids can include water, juices, or sports drinks. If large amounts of sweat are lost during soccer training and competition, you may become dehydrated which can cause poor performance and increase your risk of heat-related illness. By the time you're thirsty, you've already lost important fluids and electrolytes and might be dehydrated. So remember to stick to the golden rule – drink before, during and after activities. Drinks with caffeine are diuretics and cause the body to excrete fluids rapidly.

Coaches should never deny a request for water. Replacing lost fluids is critical. Cold water is best. The body absorbs cold fluids FASTER than ones at room temperature. A fluid's sugar content and volume also affect how quickly it is absorbed. When it is your turn to bring drinks to the match bring 10-K, Quick-Kick, Gatorade or other drinks that will replace the electrolytes in the body. Do not give your players salt tablets. Replacing fluids, not salt is important. Even if the weather is cool, your players will need plenty of fluids to ward off the chances of dehydration. Bring water to all outdoor activities year round to insure a happy, healthy and active year for your players.

Even mild dehydration will slow down one's metabolism as much as 3%. A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic tactics, and difficulty focusing on the match or on ball skills.   A 1% loss of water from the body causes a 10% drop in performance levels. Soccer players should drink fluids before, during, and following training and competition to reduce dehydration. Frequent urination is a better sign than thirst that you have had enough to drink.

When you play soccer you work up a sweat! That means you're going to lose fluids fast. Research shows that if you put those fluids back, you feel re-energized and can keep playing. Remember these guidelines when preparing to play. Based on your size, you may need to drink more—but always drink until you're satisfied—and remember to take a few extra gulps for added power.

                Before a match: 4 to 8 ounces
                During a match: 4 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes
                After a match: 16 ounces

Drink plenty of fluids like Gatorade and water the night before and the morning of the match to keep well hydrated. The faster your body can soak up fluids, the quicker you will be re-energized and back in the match! Research shows that a sports drink like Gatorade puts back the fluids and electrolytes you lose during training or play. Consumption of fluids or foods containing moderate levels of carbohydrate and salt will help you recover from training and/or competition.

A simple way to determine how much fluid to drink is to weigh yourself before and after a workout or match to find out your ""sweat rate."" The weight loss will be almost entirely the amount of fluids that should be replaced. Drink at least 16 ounces for every pound you lose during activity. Also take the pinch test. Put your hand in front of you (palms down) and pinch the skin on the back of your knuckles. If you are well hydrated, the skin should snap back when you let go. If it stays pinched for several seconds, you may need fluids.
 

Meetings

Sam Snow

How to Encourage Participation
Too many soccer volunteers spend too much time at too many meetings. Here are some ways a leader can cut down on inefficient meetings.
Begin the meeting on time. The more you do this, the easier it becomes to get people there for the start. Have minutes and agendas available as attendees enter, do not waste time passing them out. Ask people to review them before the meeting begins.
Introduce new people, and tell why they are there.
Review and approve minutes---but do not read them aloud. Presumably, all attendees can read.
Review the agenda; revise it if necessary. Each agenda item should have a time frame allotted to it. Emphasize that you will be sticking to each time slot.
Encourage participation by recognizing each speaker. Do not allow one or two people to monopolize discussion. Do not allow the discussion to wander. Be assertive in cutting people off, and moving items along.
Be directive. Intervene to ask clarifying questions: Is this a request for answers or a call for a vote?
Handle questions. If answers are unavailable, delay action and appoint someone to gather the necessary information for the next meeting.
End the meeting by having people leave with a sense of accomplishment. Review actions taken; highlight accomplishments; review what is to be done, and by whom. Arrange the next meeting time and place, then formally close with a word of optimism. And do so on time.
Participation by more than just a few people should be encouraged at meetings.
 
 

Communication

Sam Snow

Communication between state associations and the soccer clubs around a state is of critical importance.    Continual improvement is necessary for soccer to prosper in United States. All aspects of communication are equally important. 
 
Further the communication must come not only from the state association to the clubs, but also from the clubs to the state association. The clubs that will need the most help with communication are the smaller ones who do not currently have paid administrators and/or coaches. The clubs with employees still need assistance and guidance, but not quite as much as the clubs run 100 percent by volunteers.
 
Here are ways that the state association and the local soccer clubs can improve communication with their members.
 
-News Releases – TV, radio and print
 
-Newsletter
 
-Bulletin board at the soccer fields
 
-Voice Mail telephone service
 
-Semi-annual coaches meetings at the club
 
-Annual referees meetings at the club
 
-Annual one day workshop for team managers held locally at the club
 
-Internet - website and an e-mail account.
 
-Monthly faxes with news and information on upcoming events
 
-Clubs, as well as the state association, use state newsletter
 
-Tournaments at the clubs can be better used to inform the soccer public about upcoming local, state, regional and national events
 
-League matches can serve the same function as the local tournaments to share news
 
-State tournaments can be used to inform the public about soccer events for the following soccer year
 
-Referee and coaching courses
 
-State Coaching Symposium - club coaches meeting in conjunction
 
-Annual General Meeting - club coaches meeting in conjunction
 
-State Business Meeting - club coaches meeting in conjunction
 
High school, college and professional soccer matches - information in game programs and announced over the public address system
 
Ultimately for any of these forms of communication to work the soccer family in a state must work at it. Systems of communication can be put into place, but they will not be effective if the players, administrators, referees, coaches and parents do not take advantage of it and work at improving communication within their team.