Now that you have learned about the value of a soccer camp and how to pick one, it’s time to explore how to prepare for one. EXACT has worked with coaches and players all over the nation, and we know that in order to get the most out of your camp experience you need to be prepared. In this article, we will talk about what you can do before, during, and after the camp to maximize your experience and performance.
Not only is it important that you bring all the necessary items, but it is also important that you are physically and mentally ready for the camp. Whether it is a day camp or an overnight camp, you will often be training for several hours, multiple times a day. Those training sessions will, without a doubt, be both physically and mentally draining. Because of this, it is important to take care of your body before and during the camp.
Before the camp, make sure you eat properly and consume as much water as you can. Being properly hydrated and well rested will ensure that you start the camp with the energy that you need. You may also want to set aside some time to practice imagery and goal setting. What is it that you want out of this camp? What do you want to accomplish? Asking yourself these questions can help you focus on your goals and achieve them during the camp.
It is also important to prepare all of your equipment and belongings well beforehand. You don’t want to be stressed and rushing around to find your cleats 2 hours before the camp. Make a list of everything you need and prepare your bags the night before. It is usually a good idea to bring extra cleats and socks (in case it rains), multiple water bottles, snacks (for in between sessions), a soccer ball, and a writing utensil and paper (for meetings with coaches/trainers).
During the camp, be sure to stay as hydrated as possible. Soccer camps – especially those in the summer months – can dehydrate a player quickly (Mamula 2004, Walker et al 2004). Drinking water before, during, and after training sessions will not only prevent dehydration, but will also increase your endurance, decision-making skills and recovery time. Eating healthy snacks and meals as well as getting adequate rest will keep you in top physical condition throughout the camp.
Being hydrated and eating right are important elements of your performance, but don’t forget to include your mental training. Throughout the camp you should periodically review your goals and reevaluate or revise them as necessary. For example, if before the camp you set out to juggle the ball 20 times on your head, but just can’t seem to get there, you may need to bring your goal down to 10 head juggles, or try a different approach. Remember, the coaches and trainers are there to help you reach your goals. If you’re having trouble with a certain technique or drill, be sure to ask an instructor for clarification – this will help you get the most out your camp experience.
After the camp, continue to hydrate properly and eat healthy to help your body recover. Write down any comments or suggestions the coaches gave you during the camp. This will give you something to refer to when making new goals or trying a new skill. If you attended a recruiting camp, be sure to follow up with a thank you email or phone call to the coach. A soccer camp is a great opportunity to learn from exceptional coaches and improve your game. Following these simple tips will help you stay on top of your game and be better prepared for your next soccer camp!
- Mamula, P.W. (2004) Dehydration risk during summer youth sports camps. Physician and Sportsmedicine. 32(7): 435
- Walker, S.M., Casa, D.J. FACSM; Levreault, M.L., Psathas, E., Sparrow, S.L., Decher, N.R. (2004) Children participating in summer soccer camps are chronically dehydrated. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 36(5):180-181