For a young soccer player, few things are more exciting than being able to play at the college level. After advancing through the leagues and playing well enough on their high school varsity team to get noticed by a recruiter, playing on a college team is the reward for years of training and dedication.
As thrilling as this is, the reality is a little more daunting. Even if you were once a big fish in a little pond, college soccer can make you feel like a little fish in the ocean.
Everything is ratcheted up beyond anything you’ve likely experienced, such as the level of play and competition, as well as the skills of other players and the pressure you’ll feel to perform.
You’ll want to devote a big part of the summer before you start playing to training. At a minimum, players should devote 10 hours a week to playing and training. Ideally, this number will be closer to 20. That’s about how many hours per week you’ll play in college. Basically, the more you practice and the more hours you put in, the easier the transition will be.
In order to fully condition yourself, your training program should begin in May. The basic breakdown is to spend four weeks on general conditioning and then four weeks doing soccer-specific training. This will get you primed to begin 2–3 weeks of intense training before going off to college.
What it looks like
The first four weeks will be devoted to building up your strength, speed and cardio performance. For strength, a full-body circuit-training routine is great way to build up muscular power and endurance, all while providing a solid foundation to prevent injury. This is the principle behind all the training you’ll be doing in this phase: building a solid foundation of endurance, strength and speed.
After these four weeks of training have helped you put a solid foundation in place, you can begin to train more soccer-specific muscles and skills. In these four weeks you’ll be doing agility drills, plyometric training, hill runs, sled pulls and, of course, lots of drills with an agility ladder.
The final weeks before you go off to college and play are the capstone to this program. The hours you put in and the effort you exert will increase as you build on your success and push through your limits.
Dedicating yourself to a training program before you begin playing with your college team isn’t just a matter of physical conditioning, it is an important way to build confidence and mentally prepare yourself. If you’ve gotten this far, you know that it’s impossible to understate the mental aspect of the game.
If you’re ready to get in your best shape yet, or if you know someone who’s about to play college soccer, check out SoccerSavings.com‘s wide collection of training gear and more to meet all of your soccer needs.