The following comments came from our US Youth Soccer Facebook page:
"Do you have information regarding the clash between Club Soccer and High School Soccer? What do the experts say about practicing twice a day; once at high school and then at club practice? The situation has occurred for players on a team heading to National League in three weeks, so the high school coach was asked to let those particular players refrain from high school practice (contact drills) until they return from the National League weekend.
If experts do say that too much practice is harmful to young athletes, I think it would be a good idea for US Youth Soccer do a story and email that story to every high school soccer coach and Athletic Director across the entire nation."
Two-a-day training for teenaged and older players has been going on for decades. Typically, it’s done in the pre-season period of team preparation. I have seen it done by club teams late in the season in preparation for State Cup. That usually backfires and the team goes into cup competition with low energy reserves. Two-a-day workouts are best left to the preseason phase of team preparation.
Two-a-day training can work when it’s organized and conducted by one coach for players on one team. In this way, the coach can properly manage the workload on the players. Only then can a proper periodization plan be prepared by the coach with varying workloads and scheduled time off for rest and recovery.
When players are going through two-a-day training sessions with two different teams and coaches, then problems begin. The odds are that the two head coaches have not tailored their training plan for the players in this situation. The onus is on the coaches to communicate and cooperate regarding their training and periodization plans in the best interest of the players. The responsibility of the players here is to put the two coaches into contact with one another.
If the two coaches communicate a plan between them to have the players involved in this situation on a periodization scheme different from other players who are engaged with only one team at the time, then it is possible to not exhaust the players. The coaches would need to check in with each other every week to be sure they are both still on the original plan. The fear for both coaches should be that they exhaust the players, both physically and mentally. If that happens, then neither team gets the best out of those players.
The best scenario here is for a player to play on just one team in a season. No one can go through two different training and match schedules in the same season and perform at optimum level. The higher the level of play, the more demanding each match, and the more recovery time players need. In fact, it takes 72 hours to fully recover physically from highly vigorous exercise. When simultaneously playing for two teams, the odds are low that proper balance in the training and match play periodization will occur.
For more information on periodization in soccer, please attend an "E" and then the "D" license coaching course in your state soccer association.
The Pitch is a publication of North Texas Soccer