Sports Academy: Players need downtime to avoid burnout
balanced approach: Important to have other interests outside soccer
B.C.’s motivated and budding young soccer players need to make sure they aren’t running themselves dry in order to reach their goals.
“Overtraining has always been a danger,” said B.C. Soccer’s director of soccer development, Michael Findlay. “(And it) can certainly be physical and emotional — there is that fatigue factor that comes in.”
With it comes a higher risk of injury, frustration, lack of performance, or, at its worst, it could drive players away from the game.
And according to managing director of Richmond’s TSS Academy, Colin Elmes, most of that drop off occurs with older players who are more serious about the sport.
“There’s too many players that are playing the game now to get somewhere,” said Elmes, referencing those working towards university or national teams. “When the kid is playing soccer to reach a goal ... that’s usually when the problems occur.”
And while most elite players are aware of the commitment — which could be up to three training sessions a week on top of a weekend game — there’s still a need for balance.
“Players who strive to be in the high performance stream are sacrificial,” said Findlay. “When all of their friends may be going out to a specific event, some social gathering, a party — they may not be able to do that because maybe they have a training session or it’s the night before a match.
“But that does not mean give up completely on having a social network ... (there’s) got to be balance with everything else they do.”
It’s important for players at all levels to have hobbies outside of soccer, be it other sports or music lessons — but most importantly they need to have downtime.
“Rest is part of your program,” said Elmes. “There’s a tendency these days to eat up everybody’s spare time with organized sports and some of these kids are jumping from one event to another and they don’t understand the body needs time to repair.”
According to Findlay, nothing could benefit a player’s performance more than “a good solid departure from the game.”
“It provides them an opportunity to regenerate their interest, regenerate their enthusiasm and regenerate their body at the same time so when they do come back they’re in the appropriate condition ... to deliver,” he said.
This is why B.C. Soccer and the CSA are doing their best to ensure clubs across the province are up to date with long term player development (LTPD).
“Each of the stages of development presents and rationalizes the amount of training you should do compared to how many games you should play,” said Findlay. “We’re looking for all of our clubs in British Columbia to make sure that they’re compliant with LTPD and the education it can provide both to their clubs, to their coaches, to their parents on what is appropriate.”
And while it’s important for parents, coaching staff and technical directors to ensure kids aren’t overloading, players also need to be aware of their own threshold: “You can’t say yes to everything,” said Findlay.
Coaches should also watch out for the tell-tale signs of over exertion, like physical fatigue, loss of motivation, mood swings or changes in demeanour, or if the player seems distant.
According to Elmes, if this happens he’ll sit down with the parent and player and suggest a couple weeks rest from the game.
“Really, this is about creating a life-long involvement in the sport,” said Elmes.
“If a player in youth football isn’t enjoying the environment, there’s something wrong,” added Findlay. “Even the great players in the world enjoy the competition.”
“Nothing good comes from a sad player.”
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