The Off-Season Approach

What’s in an off-season?

Every soccer player has one. Whether you missed out on the playoffs, got knocked out, or won the whole thing… eventually, you will enter the off-season. To me, the off-season has such a big question mark around it. Do you take more rest? Do you continue to train? Do you play other sports to stay in shape? Trust me, I’ve heard it all. Even in my 6th year as a professional, I’m still trying to ‘fully’ figure it out. In my time spent figuring it out, I’ve discovered an idea/approach that works for me.

Find What Works For YOU

First off, I want to say that everyone is different, and, ultimately, you need to find a process that works for you. This isn’t an excuse not to train at all and sit on the couch. Because I know, for a fact, that won’t get you to the next level. I’ve had many peers that have taken this approach, and they were not serious about playing at the next level. How you attack the off-season is somewhat subjective to the individual, but laziness is not an option.

Okay, now that we went over that, let’s get into ‘what’s in an off-season.’

Actually, I don’t believe in an “off-season!”

I believe in:

  1.  Pre-season

  2. Regular season

  3. Post-season

  4. Immediately back to pre-season (let me explain)

Firstly, you have your normal pre-season with your team. This is where you report for organized training to get ready to compete for the regular season and (hopefully) playoffs or post-season. After that, I really don’t think you should fully stop playing. I’ve heard so many times, “Oh, you need to take a break from soccer,” or, “You’ll get burnt out if you continue to play.” When I hear these comments, I’m always puzzled. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in rest & recovery. Those are a must in order to stay healthy. It’s funny to me because I think of soccer as breathing. And I don’t get tired of breathing. That’s my mindset!

Now, what does the time between the end of my season to the beginning of the next organized pre-season look like for me?  

With all the competing in the other 3 ‘seasons’ I outlined above, I like to focus on staying sharp technically and physically. I spend a lot of time with the ball juggling, shooting, passing, you name it, while also improving my footwork. It’s important to get this time alone with the ball. It allows you to get more familiar with it, ultimately improving your technical ability.

Physically, I focus on staying fit by doing longer runs, timed sprints, and resistance training. We can all become fitter and discover new limits. Each time we go out and time our runs/sprints we have a new threshold to push past…. which makes us push even more! On the other hand, resistance training’s a little more subjective since we’re all different. I like to focus on my strengths and make them stronger. But I also focus on my weaknesses, eventually turning them into strengths! After all, this is the time to do it.

All in all, the ‘off-season’ is a great time to work on everything that you’ve been wanting to improve. This time allows you to go out and compete against yourself. There’s more time you can spend around the ball, improving your fitness and zoning in on those strengths and weaknesses. Remember, you need to find a process that works for you.

Whenever this time of the year comes around, I like to remind myself of this quote:

  • “Don’t be upset by the results you didn’t get with the work you didn’t do!”

Man, that quote gets me going! It’s so true, too. Use this time to put the work in so you can accomplish the goals you have for next season! It’s up to you. Keep Grinding.

“Optimize your mind for your Grind!”

Brandt Bronico
Charlotte FC #13

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