Coach education has always been a passion of mine. Throughout my career, I have continually pushed and challenged myself in all areas of my education, both in fitness/sports science, as well as in soccer coaching. In recent years, I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to become an educator, lecturing at universities/colleges, national/international sports science and soccer coaching conferences, as well as to youth clubs and academies throughout the province. In this article, I am introducing and explaining the rationale behind the creation of my Soccer Fitness Trainer’s Course, the first ever soccer-specific coach education course in Canada to focus specifically on physical training and testing of soccer players and teams.
The establishment of standards-based leagues for elite youth and adult amateur players in Ontario is a huge step in the right direction for optimal player development and to strengthen our Canadian National Teams. As a company working exclusively with soccer players, we at Soccer Fitness Inc. are primarily concerned with the fitness standards associated with these new leagues, and how they can best be implemented in order to optimize players’ physical development. One fact that is certain is that, as the numbers of teams and players in standards-based leagues grows, the clubs with teams in these leagues will require knowledgeable and experienced fitness coaches to provide the high quality fitness testing and training which the players require. Making sure that fitness coaches are educated about safe, science/evidence-based methods of testing and training is of critical importance in ensuring soccer players receive the high standard of training that has been mandated. While there presently exists a wide variety of continuing education courses aimed at fitness professionals, including a few that are considered to be “sport-specific training courses” there is no course available to coaches or fitness professionals that teaches soccer-specific fitness training.
Why is it so important for coaches and fitness coaches to learn about soccer-specific fitness training? Simply put, there is no way for any coach to maximize the development of the players they work with if they are not knowledgeable about fitness and/or are not able to incorporate fitness into their team training sessions. The reality of youth soccer in Canada is that field time and total training time are limited – sometimes to as little as 2-3 training sessions per week. Thus, coaches and fitness coaches working in these environments must be able to make the most efficient use of their training time, by combining the technical / tactical aspects of their training with the right physical / physiological aspects (duration, intensity, and work-to-rest ratios). To use just one example, if players and/or teams train to improve any specific technical or tactical ability, but this training is done at an intensity which is lower than the actual intensity experienced during match play, then the resulting improvements in technical and tactical performance will not translate as effectively into match play. Consequently, coaches and fitness coaches – whether they like it or not – must be able to plan and implement training sessions that include the right type of physical and physiological training stimulus in combination with their specific technical and tactical plan in order to maximize their players’ overall development and performance.
It was with these facts in mind that I decided to create the Soccer Fitness Trainer’s Course, aimed at fitness professionals and/or soccer coaches looking to increase their knowledge and practical skills in the design and implementation of soccer-specific on-field fitness training. The first edition of the Course will be taking place on the weekend of January 8th, 9th, and 10th, 2016, at Trio Sportsplex, located at 601 Cityview Blvd. in Vaughan. The Soccer Fitness Trainer’s Course is a unique coach-education program that combines theoretical lectures in the sports sciences, with the practical and soccer-specific application of these sciences. Fitness professionals and/or soccer coaches who enrol in the Soccer Fitness Trainer’s Course will learn how to plan and implement year-round soccer-specific fitness training programs for their teams.
Central to the Course is the teaching of Soccer Fitness’ 60-Minute Soccer-Specific On-Field Fitness Session. We have used and continue to use these comprehensive 1-hour sessions in all of our On-Field Training programs, with teams ranging from U10-U18 rep./academy, the Ontario Provincial/Canadian National Teams, the Toronto FC Academy teams, and professional soccer clubs abroad. The basic format and structure of the Soccer Fitness 60-Minute Soccer-Specific On-Field Fitness Session, which is described and taught in detail during the Course, is as follows:
- 0-15 minutes: Soccer-Specific Warm-Up
- 16-30 minutes: Soccer-Specific Coordination Training
- 31-45 minutes: Soccer-Specific Energy System Training
- 46-60 minutes: Soccer-Specific Strength Training
Other topics covered in the course include anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and motor learning specific to the sport of soccer, as well as modules on fitness assessment, periodization of training, injury prevention, and specific youth soccer training. Fitness professionals with an interest in working with soccer players will come away from the Course with a much better understanding of how to make all aspects of their training programs more specific to the sport of soccer. Soccer coaches who are working with players at any age or level of ability will come away from the Course with valuable knowledge and skills that will allow them to successfully plan and implement physical fitness exercises into their practices, and they will also learn how to integrate fitness work within their regular technical/tactical training sessions.
The Ontario Soccer Association’s and Canadian Soccer Association’s new standards for soccer-specific physical fitness testing and training are changes that will be extremely helpful to the long-term athletic development of our province’s soccer players. Fitness professionals and soccer coaches working in high performance environments and wishing to meet these standards will now require some specific training and education to learn how to plan and implement optimal physical fitness testing and training programs for their athletes and teams. It is our belief that the Soccer Fitness Trainer’s Course will provide participants with essential knowledge and practical skills in the fields of exercise science and on-field coaching/training. Our Trainer’s Course will provide coaches and fitness professionals with the tools they need to optimize the physical development and performance of the players they work with.
Below is a link to our registration form for the Soccer Fitness Trainer’s Course (for anyone who is interested in attending).
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments about this topic. Drop me a line here to get the conversation started.