Highschool soccer coaches with totally different approaches to summer season coaching
High school football coaches expect a return to normal in the fall. But in the pandemic season – which ended just a few months ago – teams are still grappling with the aftermath.
“Trainers are creatures of habit,” said Prairie trainer Mike Peck. “We are still mapping uncultivated waters.”
This summer, football will look a little different. Summer camps will be skipped, the training will remain contactless until July and the trainers will use the time to spark anticipation for a full autumn plan.
The latter has not been a problem for most of the teams so far.
“That was our best summer since I’ve been a coach,” said Peck. “I was really blown away by the number of visitors.”
Summer camp blues
Due to COVID-19 concerns, the first thing this summer was the traditional three-day summer camp on the chopping block. It is the second year in a row that most teams have skipped summer camp.
The camps – where the teams spent several days playing, watching movies, and training – are the greatest bonding experience in football.
Spending several days with teammates and going to the swimming pool or the cinema when you are not grinding on the grill brings a group together. The late nights lead to intense conversations where coaches and teammates get to know each other, said La Center trainer John Lambert.
“It’s difficult to repeat with friends, parents, and other friends nearby,” added Lambert.
Some teams are planning more scrimmages and 7-on-7 on-site games to balance the live-action component of most camps.
Coaches will still be able to get a feel for how players are behaving in game-like actions. But they may not have the same luxuries at smaller schools like La Center.
“But it’s difficult because there are so many holidays,” said Lambert. “We’re going to have a scrimmage. That’s the least we’ve ever had. “
Limitation of contact
Most teams usually have their most intense training sessions at the beginning of the summer season, as soon as football is allowed to resume after Memorial Day. But this year the WIAA limited the programs during their summer training to just 10 contact days.
This caused some trainers to rethink when to use these days.
“We want to make the best possible use of these 10 days,” said Peck. “We’re going to use this later part of July as our summer camp and do these padded drills and compete against other teams.”
This delay will also give players a little more time to recover from the season that ended in April for 3A and 4A schools. Many players played another sport where the games were packed into a compressed time frame.
Avoiding burnout is the key, even if the team comes out of the shortened 2020-21 football season healthy, ”said Lambert.
“We want you to appreciate the time you have with us,” said Lambert. “We only do three days a week, two hours per training session, so that it doesn’t drag on.”
Mountain View is perhaps the most unorthodox approach to summer. Rather than doing traditional soccer practice this June, Adam Mathieson’s staff opted to treat the 2020-21 season as a “spring ball” with seven games.
“We’re in our traditional summer fitness program at this point and don’t have any specific soccer practice,” said Mathieson.
Ready for fall
With a full season expected to start in September, the excitement among players for this time of year is at an all-time high, several coaches agreed.
On the Columbia River, the Rapids are constantly sending 45 players to practice, said coach Brett Smedley. Prairie is around 85-90.
“I think there are a variety of factors,” said Peck. “Some of the kids missed a lot last year and want to be there. Some of the returnees are not satisfied with the way spring has gone and want to get better. “
The athletes are also more familiar with the systems, routines, and vocabulary as they are fresh in the mind, the coaches agreed. That makes it easy to focus on installing new packages and optimizing others.
On August 18, when the teams’ fall season officially begins, the coaches expect things to return to normal.
Lambert said, “I really hope.”