When it comes to Soccer, there is nothing better than playing the ACTUAL game. Most young players may not enjoy running laps during practice, going over tactics, or perhaps the agility drills to work on their fitness. However, EVERYONE loves Game Time!
Now, this article is about “how to prepare for a soccer game”, individually and as a team. Players and coaches should be aware of these critical points to make sure that the game day goes as planned. Not only playing well and getting a W, but also having everyone safe and healthy by the end of the match. Some things that I consider “obvious” include:
- Be on Time: About one hour before the kickoff.
- Wear Appropriate Gear: Remember, the weather tells you what to wear!
- ***DON’T FORGET***
- TO COACH – Soccer balls and a few cones will be needed
- TO PLAYERS – Make sure you eat AT LEAST 2 hours before the kickoff
- >> Water – Water – Water <<
Check the Field (if possible)
Depending on the situation, players will have time to walk on the field and check for holes, dangerous items like glass, or how good/bad a field is even before the warm up. If this is the case, everyone should be encouraged to walk around and make sure they are aware of the condition of the field.
It is important to highlight that the condition of the field and the weather can determine how to play the game and what style will lead to a better performance. For example, on a rainy day the ball will skip a lot; on a field with high grass, the passes will need more power to get to the targeted area.
Again, coaches and players should take a look at the field before/during the warm up, if possible.
Warm Up / Game Mode
Make sure the players are focused in the game and ready for it. I usually tell my players to get in “GAME MODE” as soon as I get to the field. Right before the warm up, I make sure that their minds are where they should be.
The warm up should have the typical run, static stretch, and dynamic stretch routines.
- Run: Player should run 2-3 laps at 30% to get the legs moving and slowly picking up the pace to 40-50%.
- Static Stretch: Captains should lead the stretch. About 20 different moves. Coaches should run this during practice so that player have an idea of what/how to stretch.
- Dynamic Stretch: Just like the Static Stretch, players should complete this task.
This portion of the warm up should last approximately 25 minutes. This would prevent/reduce muscular injuries.
Simple Shooting & Passing Drills
Once the players have completed the stretching part of the warm up, they can get into some shooting and passing/possession drills to them ready to shine! Since the main purpose of the game is to SCORE, then shooting helps them get into that mentality right before the game.
I would include some crossing and finishing, possessions 5 vs 5 in a small area, and passing into the space. There should be a routine for this so that players can run this on their own. Of course, a coach should supervise the drills at all times but PLAYERS should know exactly what to do.
Final Talks! (Coach and Players)
Coaches should encourage players to talk among themselves about plays, ways to communicate, special “codes”, or simply about tactics that were prepared during practice. I would have individual conversation with my key players and those that tend to require a little push.
Soccer is a team sport so there should be no “isolation” because no player can win a game COMPLETELY by himself/herself. Maybe a player need “a minute” to get focused and ready but other than that, everyone should be on the same page – GAME TIME!
Motivation and Encouragement
This is what I think can bring a team together and win championships. No matter how good a team is, if there is no motivation, the game plan can collapse at any time. I truly believe that humans move because of motivation and there is no doubt that soccer players need to be motivated and encouraged to show their best skills on the field to win games.
I sometimes wonder if top professional players’ performances correlate to the way they felt a few hours before the game. For example, I can’t understand why Messi can be “a beast” with Barcelona FC but he struggles with his national team, Argentina. There is no doubt that it has to do with the motivation and encouragement that he receives at both places and that leads him to feel in a certain way. What do you think? Comment below.
Reminding your players that on a game we get to see the result of the effort, time, sacrifice, and hard work that they put in is a great way to motivate them. I also mention the fact that their parents/guardians do whatever they can to support them and they don’t want to come to see us performing below our best! I make it very personal and as a team we do our “TEAM on 3 – 1,2,3 TEAM” thing and get on the field with all the positive energy that we have.
At the end of the day, I want my players to be satisfied with their performance and enjoy the best sport in the world… SOCCER!
Leave your thoughts and suggestions. Thank you 🙂
Victor – SoccerWord123.com