Winter in Colorado might mean snow and darkness, but it doesn’t mean the end to physical activity. Soccer players are usually athletic, focused and teachable, which means they can also perform well at other sports. Many play basketball through clubs or schools between December and March. “Gold Crown” tends to conclude during the first few weeks of the spring season, so look forward to clashes with your practices and games! Others like to take advantage of living so close to some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world. We have coached plenty of players who leave practice in November and are never seen again until March, unless you go up to Copper Mountain that is.
Unfortunately, like soccer, both of these can lead to injuries. Basketball is played on a hard surface, which in teenagers tends to cause chronic injuries to knees and shins. We have noticed this is especially prevalent in players who try to do both soccer and basketball at the same time. The key to survival here is to make sure the player understands that ignoring it and playing through pain is not the answer. The only person who knows how serious it is, is the player. Encourage them to talk to their parents and to you when they feel pain, and to set a schedule that is realistic before they are unable to do anything and require a long period away from sport to recover.
For skiing and snowboarding, the risk is generally to serious impact injuries (broken bones, torn ligaments/tendons, concussions). Hopefully your players are not taking serious risks right before tournaments or league games, and they should always be wearing protective headgear on the slopes. As a coach, your responsibility to them extends beyond the soccer field. Any advice you can pass on to them for their other sports and life in general is usually appreciated by the player and their family, and can only help you get back a healthy team at the start of the next season.
The benefit from other sports could be that players maintain or even improve their fitness. There are few sports out there that require higher fitness than soccer, but some of them can certainly help more than sitting home watching television. Swimming is great access for soccer players. It is extremely unlikely to lead to chronic impact injuries, is available relatively cheaply all year round, and doesn’t require any expensive equipment or a team. Swimming also helps player learn to control their breathing and it improves their upper body fitness where soccer tends to focus on the lower body.