Running and Cardio - yay or nay?

Discussion in 'Youth & HS Soccer' started by NewDadaCoach, Jan 16, 2020.

  1. NewDadaCoach

    NewDadaCoach Member

    Tottenham Hotspur
    United States
    Sep 28, 2019
    #1 NewDadaCoach, Jan 16, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
    In the thread about snowboarding there was a lot of debate about running (for cardio and technique). Creating a new thread for this topic rather than discussing it under snowboarding. It seems to be a hot topic.

    Running (for endurance/stamina/etc) - is it worthwhile or a waste of time to run a couple laps around the field at practice? Perhaps it depends on the age group, as U-littles have small fields, and short games; most kids run naturally in day-to-day play, so add it all up and perhaps it's a "waste of time" for U-littles. Though I would argue that for certain "cardio-challenged" kids, they need to do focused running.

    Running technique - are kids naturally good runners or do they need taught how to "properly" run (as per a track coach might do)? My own opinion is that it depends. For some kids there are clear deficiencies that are clearly holding back a kid from running a decent pace. I think those should be fixed if possible. Most other kids probably have good enough form. As the age groups and competitiveness increases I think it is worthwhile to spend a little more time on running technique, but I also don't feel a soccer player's running form has to be as perfect as a track athlete's.

    @Unnaturallybigger believes that laps are unnecessary but technique is important.
    @jmnva believes that running is a waste of time. @Iniesta62106 @The Stig @mwulf67 also side with this.
     
  2. MySonsPlay

    MySonsPlay Member

    Liverpool FC
    United States
    Oct 10, 2017
    #2 MySonsPlay, Jan 17, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2020
    The good coaches that my sons have had, have always used laps before or after practice (sometime both) as a team building exercise. They get all the socializing out of the way before and the gripes and frustrations after.

    Running style is often a indicator of athleticism. With that said, I do not think a soccer player has to have the running form of a track athlete whose form contributes to their speed. My youngest son developed a head bop at an early age, he worked on limiting it over the years, but on occasion you still notice while he is playing. It has not effected his overall soccer career.
     
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  3. pu.ma

    pu.ma Member

    Feb 8, 2018
    To put it in context, at 4 or 5 years old with several parent helpers, maybe it's not such a bad idea to spend a bit of time on running technique. Not sure how far you would get with that though.
     
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  4. Unnaturallybigger

    United States
    Jun 28, 2019
    https://www.socceramerica.com/publi...no-laps-and-other-fitness-health-insight.html

    SA: Should running laps still be part of a youth soccer practice?

    JOHN CONE: Absolutely not. While it is less than ideal for the players to run without the ball, this type of steady state running is the most problematic for a couple of simple reasons. 1) The lack of fluctuation in intensity does not emphasize one of the most important components of soccer-specific fitness, the ability to recover rapidly from work. 2) Because of the lack of change in intensity, the muscles are not taxed in a manner specific to soccer.

    SA: What advice would you give coaches of players in the earliest years of youth soccer?

    JOHN CONE: Make sure the players are on the ball as often as possible, and focus specifically on challenging how well the players move. Developing the movement abilities of young players goes a long ways in developing overall athleticism and ultimately soccer-specific abilities.

    SA: At what age does it make sense to have fitness training without the ball?

    JOHN CONE: It's less a question of age, and more a question of the situation. In team training it seldom makes sense for the players to do activities without the ball at any age. Above the ages of approximately 13 in girls and 14 in boys, performing fitness without the ball may be important if the individual player is in an off period of training, returning from injury, or supplementing training. Even at these times, there are activities with the ball that can be used to simultaneously increase fitness and soccer-specific technical ability.
     
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  5. Unnaturallybigger

    United States
    Jun 28, 2019
    I'm not in favor of working on running mechanics or technique as a separate drill but as part of "on the ball" activities. I'm not pretending it's something that's easy to correct, it needs constant reinforcement. Most coaches aren't willing to put in the effort because they're lazy and/or don't understand the importance of good mechanics.

    While I believe that first touch is the most important thing in soccer, coaches just can't spend all their time on foot drills. Body positioning (particularly arms) and decision making are critical to the development of the complete player.
     
  6. The Stig

    The Stig Member

    Jun 28, 2016
    In regards to elementary age children devoting any practice time to the isolated act of running is unnecessary. Well run practices should provide all the necessary fitness necessary for the players. Field size, substitutions and game length are all very kid friendly as is.

    If kids are standing in lines during practice then the practice is poorly run. These are the exact coaches who will have kids run as a way of making up for their low intense training.

    Teaching the mechanics of running should also not be done by any volunteer coach. This is like being a golf swing coach or a pitching coach. Everyone runs differently and soccer is never a static race like track. Any heavy focus on form over actual function in a fluid and dynamic sport like soccer doesn't allow the kids to develop the necessary bio-mechanics for them that fit the situation. Teaching a kid how to polish their form to run the fastest 35 yard dash in straight line has little crossover to soccer. Running fast with the ball, while simultaneously shielding the ball from a defender in active pursuit and contact requires very different mechanics than running fast straight does.

    I have seen kids with what would be considered poor mechanics in a clinical sense but they are still effective.
     
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  7. Unnaturallybigger

    United States
    Jun 28, 2019
    I'm not questioning the fact that a kid can still be effective despite poor running mechanics, they can be. But if they can be more effective with proper arm mechanics, why would we limit a kids potential? I'm not saying that they need to have the mechanics of Usain Bolt, but they need to at least drive their arms. I see way too many floppy arm kids on the pitch these days.
     
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  8. Iniesta62106

    Iniesta62106 Member

    Sep 17, 2018
    My response was specially regarding 5 and 6 year olds. At that age they are still working on basic body control so personally I wouldn’t waste time on running mechanics. Think about a boys’ U-little game. A constant mess - kids on the ground more than they are upright. They just aren’t that coordinated yet. It’s not a deficiency - it’s just normal maturation process.

    For older kids I would say yes to at least basic first step work and basic running form.
     
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  9. The Stig

    The Stig Member

    Jun 28, 2016
    When you are dealing with 5-6 year old kids the bad form is more likely due to developmental stages that can affect core, arm strength as well as overall balance.

    Some simple running form modeling can help but most kids are more likely to grow out of it. Time is still better spent on the ball which in and of itself will strengthen the core, improve balance and other mechanical movements on its own.
     
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  10. The Stig

    The Stig Member

    Jun 28, 2016
    In general, a topic like this kinda shines a light on being either to optimistic based on the relative ability of a 5 year old and or to pessimistic. When it comes to comparative athletics at these ages people tend to simply overlook the basic advantages that things like RAE can provide. You might tend to believe that your child is some kind of wunderkid but tend to forget the 9 month head start they may have had on kids on the same team.

    When your kid was up and walking the other kid on the team was just weeks old.
     
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  11. Unnaturallybigger

    United States
    Jun 28, 2019
    I don't pretend to know what's the best age to work on body and running mechanics. I just know it is often overlooked by coaches and when I see a 12 year old with bad mechanics I just think about how his coaches have let him/her down the past few years.

    I wholeheartedly agree that at the youngest ages the most important thing is for the child to develop a relationship with the ball.
     
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  12. The Stig

    The Stig Member

    Jun 28, 2016
    By 12 it is reasonable to have someone work with a player who still has bad form.
     
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  13. AtypicalSoccerMom

    AtypicalSoccerMom New Member

    Rush
    Jan 9, 2020
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The trainer pulled my DD the first time she went to team speed because of her arm positioning. He made a correction, and now she accelerates faster into the sprint. She's 15, and no one had ever looked at her form before she joined this team.
    As per youth training, they don't even run that much in a game at five or six. Some of the kids are still picking dandelions when the ball is at the other end of the field.
    There's also plenty for kids to do when they are older beyond running laps. At the U16 level, our team is doing one strength and conditioning session a week, sprints after practice and team speed on off weekends. The kids are wearing trackers this year, and I think my DD averages around three miles a 90-minute game with MFs a little more. The fastest girl reached 13 mph on the ball.
     
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  14. jmnva

    jmnva Member

    Feb 10, 2007
    Arlington, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    I went to a session at the Coaches Convention and my view on running has changed slightly. For older competitive teams where you have multiple session per week, there is probably a place for fitness sessions. BUT as described in the session I went to, it isn't about running laps. rather they are doing fairly short intense bursts with the idea of "training the energy system."

    For older teams that only have 1 practice per week and younger teams, I hold to my original view that I'm not going to waste my practice time running laps.
     
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  15. NewDadaCoach

    NewDadaCoach Member

    Tottenham Hotspur
    United States
    Sep 28, 2019
    But some young kids are too slow to score. They become sad. They want to quit. To fix this you need to help them become faster. No way around it. So I guess I will have the contrarian view here.
     
  16. sam_gordon

    sam_gordon Member

    Feb 27, 2017
    Or you can teach them to play smarter.
    Or you teach them (you should teach EVERYONE) that scoring isn't the be all, end all.
     
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  17. jmnva

    jmnva Member

    Feb 10, 2007
    Arlington, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    BS--scoring is largely not about speed. Give me a slow kid with moves and they will own your fast kid anytime..

    Using an adult example, I play with a guy about 5x faster than me. But on D, I know his moves and can totally own him. On offense, I can toast him via a move and counter his speed.
     
  18. NewDadaCoach

    NewDadaCoach Member

    Tottenham Hotspur
    United States
    Sep 28, 2019
    #18 NewDadaCoach, Jan 20, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
    In U6 speed is a big factor. Not many kids at U6 can do moves. They are still learning to dribble.

    But I agree that generally moves and passing can win over speed. I did realize this recently - my kid is quick but not the fastest. He was making a run in indoor and the fast kids were catching him. So that got me thinking that in order to beat the fast kid my kid has to zig-zag his way, ie moves. So we're working on that.

    Anywho here's a couple clips of my kid from last fall outdoor. You can see some kids catch up to him. But he's quick off the draw. Wondering also if you could watch and give thoughts - based on this do you think he has the potential to play in college if he keeps practicing? (#27 on the red/maroon team)


     
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  19. NewDadaCoach

    NewDadaCoach Member

    Tottenham Hotspur
    United States
    Sep 28, 2019
    Hard to teach playing smarter to U6. But I agree about the scoring part. But some kids just want to score; I think it is a natural urge for some kids.
     
  20. bigredfutbol

    bigredfutbol Moderator
    Staff Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Woodbridge, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Oh man, that seems so long ago. I still remember my son's first practice...my wife and I hadn't bought him cleats because we didn't want to invest the money unless we were sure he would enjoy it--naturally, his velcro shoes kept slipping off so the next day we went shopping for the tiniest pair of cleats I'd ever seen.

    In some ways time flies by but in other ways it seems like ancient history.
     
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  21. CoachP365

    CoachP365 Member

    Business Metrics SC
    Apr 26, 2012
    #21 CoachP365, Jan 20, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
    They all have potential to play in college if they keep practicing.

    The league isn't helping by playing 5v5 at u6. I see in the 2nd video you have a bench w 4 subs to go along with the 5 on field.

    My club they'd be doing 3v3 on side by side fields, 20yards by 15 yards. Coach and subs in between the 2 fields.

    With the 3 least interested kids on the same field for both teams, someone will have to become "the player" that has the ball, instead of just being one of a pack running behind your son. WIth a smaller field, it reduces the advantage of being able to knock a ball 20 ft away from the pack and run after it.


    Most likely yo aren't in a position to change your league organization, so other things that might help...

    You could start working with him on maybe sharing the wealth - run down the wing, teach the other kids to run to the goal, have him pass in to them. Have him hold the ball up by shielding/twists/turns while the other kids go long, then send a pass forward. If the other kids are always going to be slow, teaching them to move off the ball will help them enjoy the game more. A smart slow kid
    who is in good positions will fare better than the average to quick ball watcher who only runs reactively.

    Or just teach him to dribble into traffic instead of kicking it away and catching up to it, that's where you can steal the most souls :)



    (don't sleep on little Cannavaro at the end with the perfect slide tackle either)
     
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  22. sam_gordon

    sam_gordon Member

    Feb 27, 2017
    I'd say every child on that field, even the ones who don't touch the ball, has the potential to play in college if they keep practicing. STOP FOCUSING ON COLLEGE. He's five. Keep teaching him about the sport and playing with him. Let him enjoy the game.

    You said in another post that you'd be fine if he decides to give up soccer. I'm not convinced.
     
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  23. sam_gordon

    sam_gordon Member

    Feb 27, 2017
    Another thought... what would you think if someone said "no, he doesn't have the potential to play in college."? That you need to have him train MORE to prove the poster wrong?

    Something else to think about... why is it so important for him to play in college? So he gets accepted to a "more prestigious" school? I'd say for most majors, the school you go to doesn't really matter. And what if he's accepted at a "more prestigious" school, but not accepted on the soccer team? Look elsewhere?

    I hope you're not thinking soccer could provide a "full ride". D1 schools get 9.9 scholarships for men's soccer. There are 25-30 on the roster. Do the math.
     
  24. mwulf67

    mwulf67 Member+

    Sep 24, 2014
    Club:
    Chelsea FC
    Yes, I would also agree they all that anyone at 5 has the potential to play in college if they keep practicing… not to be a dick or harsh, but nothing I see really stands out or is all that impressive…as a parent, you should absolutely enjoy and be proud; but as many of us have repeatedly said, you need to slow roll the over the top excitement and the whole college talk…all I really see is an aggressive kid who’s figured out that once the ball pops out of the scrum, you kick the ball toward the goal, keep up with it, and roll or kick it into the empty goal, usually uncontested...easy to rack up a ton of goals in that situation…but no real indicator of anything, certainly with regard to college…
     
  25. pu.ma

    pu.ma Member

    Feb 8, 2018
    I'll be honest. Back when my kids were little, you'd see one or two like him on every team. But the good news is most of those kids did end up on an A or B team at 9 or 10 years old. Rest is kind of hard to predict.
     
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