Off Season or Not?

One question that seems to divide coaches at every level of the game is whether we over- or under-work our players. Some coaches feel that currently players are exposed to far less soccer than when they played. Usually they refer to young Brazilian kids waking up with a ball at their feet, training twice every day and playing pick-up games in the evenings. Others feel the opposite – that the business of youth (league, tournaments, ODP, camps etc) soccer now takes up too much time. They argue that we are seeing an increase in chronic injuries in teenage players which points to overexertion.

The weather in Colorado tends to create a natural break in soccer, from November to March when it is too dark and or cold/snowy for soccer practices. Historically this was time for the coach and players to get a break from each other and rebuild their enthusiasm for the game, or play other sports. However, if you travel to a tournament in Arizona or California during this period you will run into teams who have the climate to play right through the break. Surely we are being left behind therefore?

The answer doesn’t seem to be as clear as that though. With only three million people, Colorado continues to punch well above its weight in the regional and national championships. This despite having only one percent of the country’s population and not being able to practice or play outdoors for five months of the year. So does the break actually help keep players fresh, or are we weakening our players when compared to those in California?

Below are some pros and cons to help players, parents and coaches decide their own answer: –

Pros:
  • Increased touches can only improve a players ability (towards the 10,000 hour goal);
  • Off-Season generally includes out of state tournament – which provides different competition and exposure to potentially new styles of play;
  • Provides different aspects for soccer development – 5v5, 3v3, indoor, etc, which some people end up preferring to the regular 11v11 game;
  • Colorado’s summer provides great weather for outdoor practice that we currently miss out on by not having a summer season.
Cons:
  • Burnout;
  • Expense – renting indoor space and travelling adds up quickly;
  • Playing without a break can increase the risk of developing chronic injuries – particularly to shins and knees.
  • May not leave enough time for kids to play soccer on their own. If they are continually practicing, when will they have time to develop their own street soccer games

What is your view on this? Let us know with your own arguments below.

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