The fall season is short and hopefully (mostly) sweet. But that doesn’t mean it is without challenges. Often times everyone involved starts a season with renewed energy and optimism. There is a plan and goals for where things will ideally be when the final final whistle blows. This is, however, all before school starts and daylight gets shorter and maybe that master plan isn’t going quite as expected…
If a mid-season dip sets in, what can a coach do to help reinvigorate effort, focus and fun? Sometimes it requires going off-script and changing the plan. Try to figure out what the team actually needs. For younger players, this might mean less drills and possibly some time relay races, 1v1 to goal or more free play. For older players, it helps to ask them for feedback. Take the pulse from some of the trusted leaders on the squad. Maybe an extra day off? Is a relaxed team-building practice needed?
Regardless, the fall can and should be a magical time to play – and at the center of it all is the team experience. Building the energy and momentum of the team as a whole can be a valuable shift of focus and an important motivator to get everyone through the final weeks still smiling and remembering why they love the beautiful game.
Jemma Merrick is a life-long soccer fan, long-time soccer player and coach, and current soccer mom. After high school, Jemma played both Division I and Division III collegiate soccer, at the University of Virginia and Macalester College, respectively.