Pre-Season is the first part of your soccer scholarship in the USA; therefore, it is the basis for the rest of time at university in the USA. The impression that you make in your first pre-season sets the groundwork and dictates whether you can start on a high or whether you will be playing catch up from the beginning. With August being around the corner for many student-athletes, we wanted to make you aware of the 5 reasons that make it one of the most important parts of your whole experience.
- First Impression – Coaches tend to have an idea who their first-choice players will be for each position before pre-season starts. However, there are always surprises, both good and bad. Pre-season is your first opportunity to make an impression, and first impressions always go a long way. If you turn up for pre-season unfit, it says a lot about your attitude and commitment to the team. Alternatively, turn up and stand out by absolutely smashing your fitness tests and sessions, you will quickly draw the coach’s attention. Lots of teams have a Varsity squad (first team) and a JV squad (reserve team), which usually consist of around 25 players in each. When coaches are making decisions on which players go in which team, it isn’t always the most technically gifted players that find themselves in the first team. Coaches want players that they know that they can count on in the first team, and that includes attributes like attitude, work rate, and players that can compete for 90+ minutes. Also, your performance in pre-season is what is going to dictate the coach’s choice of starting 11 for the first game of the season. You don’t want to be playing catch up!
- Making relationships – One of the most unique parts about the whole USA student-athlete experience is having teammates from so many different parts of the world. You will quickly understand that you’re very similar to people from every different part of the world; the only difference being your first language. You will, eat, live, train, study, play with your team-mates, and you will make relationships that will last a lifetime. Pre-season is the first time that you meet all of these people. You will quickly begin to work out, which team-mates will really go that extra mile for you and the team on the pitch. Each Freshman is in exactly the same position – they have moved away from home, don’t know anybody, and have similar aspirations.
- Acclimatising – No matter where you are in the USA, your pre-season is likely to take place in very high temperatures. Obviously, some places have higher temperatures and humidity than others, but in August across the country you will have some acclimatising to do, particularly if you are from the UK. Now as a footballer, you will probably think you’re quite fit, however being fit to play 90 minutes in England is completely different to being fit to play 90 minutes in the USA. The tempo may well be quicker than you are used to playing. The players may also be quicker and stronger than the players that you’re used to playing against at u18 level. That added to the higher climate, means that you will have to be fitter than you’ve ever been before. Furthermore, you don’t want to be just fit enough to get through 90 minutes, if you have aspirations of winning things and being successful you will have to be fit enough to perform at your best level for 90 minutes +. The USA don’t particularly like draws, so games that are level at 90 minutes, will go into overtime/golden goal for an extra 20 minutes.
- Getting used to your surroundings – For most players, university tends to be at a place they’ve never been before if they reside in the UK. Therefore, it is important that you get used to the town/city that you are living in. The quicker you become comfortable in your environment the better your performances are likely to be. So, you will want to know, what there is to do in your free time, as well as little things like, where can I get a haircut? Where can I go out to eat? etc.
- Utilising your resources – The facilities at collegiate level in the USA are better than many people will have had before. Therefore, there are no real excuses to not be fit, unless you’re injured. As an international student, there are so many people on campus that are there to make you as comfortable as possible. The main people will be your coach and your team mates. However, advisors, the international office, mentors, and other members of staff are also on hand to help you with any queries or concerns that you may have. It is important that you know where to go if you have any problems, or questions.
How can you make sure that you hit the ground running in pre-season?
Sam Holt: Currently working as a S&C coach within professional football, ensures that clients are physically robust enough to cope with the demands of the rigorous university football programmes in the USA. Sam is a Strength and Conditioning Coach, and specialises in athletic development and injury prevention. With a degree in Sports Science, and on his way to a masters degree in Football Science and Rehabilitation, you are most definitely in safe hands with Sam. Sam will put together programmes on a monthly basis for athletes wanting to make sure they are at optimum fitness levels before departing for the USA.
If you would like an S&C programme put together by Sam, to make sure that you are at peak level fitness before embarking on your scholarship journey, then contact us.