High school soccer gets underway


By John Bernhardt
After a summer of hot, sweltering, humid, nearly rain-free days, Mother Nature ordered a reprieve just in time for the start of the 2012 fall high school soccer season. On Augusst 13, girls and guys playing soccer throughout Delaware County took to the field to start their fall campaigns and were greeted by cooler temperatures and gentle breezes.

The cooler skies, with temperatures in the low 70s were a welcome bonus for high school athletes beginning the arduous chore of pre-season conditioning and skill development. The cooler air helps athletes divert attention from stifling heat to the skills and strategies their coaches have mapped out for later success.

Every season the landscape changes. A new season brings new faces and new roles. On the first day of practice soccer coaches have as many questions as answers. Who will replace the prominent seniors who graduated in June? What leaders will emerge to motivate teammates to push themselves to new performance levels? How will team chemistry evolve?

No part of the season is as important to individual players as the preseason. It’s the law of supply and demand. The state soccer tournaments have shrunk the time available for teams to prepare for game competition. Teams have just two weeks to prepare for their first games, making the preseason critical.

Conditioning is the first concern of coaches as they kick start a new year. A strong skill set is minimized if players can’t get up and down the field. Coaches use the early days each season to evaluate kids to determine what players arrived ready to play. They work to assure players can attack the game with the same focus and intensity in the last minute of play as they did in the first minute.

High on the priority lost during the early days of a new season is acclimating newcomers to the world of high school soccer and returners to revised roles and responsibilities. Coaches take time to familiarize their charges with expected practice schedules, practice formats, and team expectations.

The start of a new sports year is an exciting time. Nerves describe the emotions as a new season begins. Coaches, newcomers and returners all share a sense of anticipation during the initial days of a new season. It’s an especially antsy time for coaches who know all to well the old adage, fail to prepare, prepare to fail.