How much training is too much for youth soccer?

Determining the optimal training regimen for youth soccer players is a delicate balancing act. While nurturing their skills and fostering a love for the game is essential, preventing burnout and overtraining is equally important. This article delves into the signs of overtraining, the importance of balancing training with rest, setting realistic goals, the roles of coaches and parents, and other crucial aspects to ensure young athletes thrive without succumbing to excessive pressures.

Key Takeaways

  • As experts recommend, youth soccer players should ideally train between 10-20 hours per week, with a maximum of 18-20 hours.
  • Recognizing the signs of overtraining, such as fatigue, aches, and anxiety, is crucial for preventing long-term negative effects.
  • Balancing training with adequate rest and recovery days is essential for the overall well-being of young athletes.
  • Effective communication between parents, coaches, and players helps monitor training intensity and ensure a healthy mindset.
  • Incorporating fun and varied training methods, such as small-sided games and cross-training, can enhance skill development while preventing burnout.

Recognizing the Signs of Overtraining

Physical Symptoms to Watch For

The earliest sign of overtraining is a lack of enthusiasm for sport. If you have to nag your young athlete to practice skills independently, that’s a red flag. If they’re starting to dread practice, that’s also a red flag. They’re checked out if they nod off at practice and aren’t focused. It’s not good.

Mental and Emotional Red Flags

Recognizing the signs of overtraining is paramount in safeguarding our young athletes’ well-being. Watch out for telltale signs like:

  • Persistent exhaustion
  • Decreased motivation
  • Declining performance
  • Irritability and mood swings

These red flags signal that a child may be pushing themselves too hard and are at risk of burnout.

When to Seek Professional Help

Another early sign is a decrease in performance and a lack of pep in their step. They no longer have that spark. They look sluggish compared to their teammates, especially when before, they were totally blasting by everyone. Maybe they even started, played a ton of minutes, and then all of a sudden, they hit a wall.

Some other signs of overtraining that develop over several months time include:

  1. Personality and mood changes: they become snappy to you, or have an attitude and resentment about them

Unfortunately, the tendency when a parent or coach is confronted with signs of overtraining is to push the child harder. But if overtraining is the culprit, any increase in training will only worsen the situation.

Balancing Training and Rest

Importance of Recovery Days

Recovery days are crucial for young athletes. They help prevent overuse injuries and allow the body to repair and strengthen itself. Taking time off from organized or structured sports participation 1 to 2 days per week is recommended to let the body rest and engage in other activities. This not only aids physical recovery but also keeps the training exciting and fun.

How Much Rest is Enough?

The amount of rest needed can vary, but a good rule of thumb is to ensure longer scheduled breaks from training and competition every 2 to 3 months. This period can be used for cross-training to prevent loss of skill or level of conditioning. It’s also essential to pay attention to how the body feels and not ignore warning signs of overtraining.

Creating a Balanced Schedule

Creating a balanced schedule involves more than just planning training sessions. It includes prioritizing recovery and sleep, fueling appropriately, and monitoring training volume, especially during the season. Here are some tips:

  • Keep workouts interesting with age-appropriate games and training.
  • Permit longer breaks from training every few months.
  • Focus on wellness and teach athletes to be in tune with their bodies.

Balancing training and rest is about finding the right mix of activity and downtime to ensure young athletes can perform at their best without becoming overwhelmed or discouraged.

Setting Realistic Training Goals

Age-Appropriate Training Plans

It is crucial to create training plans suitable for young athletes at the age and development stage. Younger players benefit from more focused and intensive training programs that challenge them to improve without overwhelming them. Coaches should follow the ten percent rule when increasing their kids’ training duration.

Listening to Your Child’s Feedback

It’s important to recognize each player’s interests and motivations. While some players thrive on intense training regimens, others may prefer a more relaxed approach. By tailoring training programs to suit each player’s unique needs and preferences, coaches can foster a positive and supportive environment where players can thrive and develop their skills.

Adjusting Goals as Needed

Other commitments outside of soccer, such as schoolwork or extracurricular activities, must be considered when structuring training schedules. Players with packed schedules may require more flexible training options to accommodate their busy lives. Moreover, recognizing when to adjust goals is essential to prevent players from becoming overwhelmed or discouraged by overly demanding workouts.

The training environment should not be a pressured one. Instead, it should solely be based on how kids can enjoy the game and develop their skills.

The Role of Coaches and Parents

Communication is vital in ensuring that young athletes are not overtraining. Coaches and parents should maintain an open dialogue about the child’s training schedule, physical condition, and emotional well-being. Regular check-ins can help identify any signs of burnout early on.

It’s essential to watch how intense the training sessions are. Coaches should follow the ten percent rule when increasing training duration to avoid overwhelming the young athletes. Parents can also observe their child’s enthusiasm and energy levels to gauge if the training is too much.

Both coaches and parents play a crucial role in fostering a positive and healthy mindset towards soccer. The training environment should be enjoyable and not pressured. Long-term enjoyment and well-being should always be the priority. Remember, a kid isn’t meant to peak at age 10.

Parents and coaches must collaborate to ensure the child’s long-term enjoyment and well-being in soccer.

Fun and Effective Training Alternatives

Incorporating Small-Sided Games

One of the best ways to keep training fun is by incorporating small-sided games. These games are enjoyable and highly effective in improving skills and promoting teamwork. Small-sided games allow players to get more touches on the ball, make quicker decisions, and stay engaged throughout the practice. This approach can empower young athletes with fun and engaging u8 soccer training drills to foster a love for the game, improve skills, and promote teamwork and decision-making.

Using Technology for Skill Development

In today’s digital age, technology can be a fantastic tool for skill development. Apps and video analysis software can help players understand their strengths and areas for improvement. Virtual reality (VR) training sessions can also provide a unique and immersive way to practice different scenarios on the field. This tech-savvy approach keeps training fresh and exciting, ensuring that players remain motivated and eager to learn.

Cross-Training Benefits

Cross-training is another excellent way to keep young athletes engaged while preventing burnout. Players can develop a well-rounded skill set and avoid overuse injuries by participating in different sports or physical activities. Cross-training can include activities like swimming, basketball, or even yoga, enhancing overall athleticism and keeping training sessions varied and interesting.

Cross-training helps in preventing loss of skill or level of conditioning while keeping the training environment enjoyable and less pressured.

How much training is too much for youth soccer 1
Foto de Alliance Football Club na Unsplash

Understanding Individual Limits

Personalized Training Programs

Every young athlete is unique and often benefits from more focused and intensive training programs. It’s essential to strike a balance between challenging players to improve while ensuring they don’t become overwhelmed or discouraged by overly demanding workouts. Personalized training programs can help tailor the intensity and volume to each athlete’s needs.

Recognizing Different Skill Levels

The answer is very athlete-dependent and has so many factors to think about:

  • How many hours is his/her body prepared to train?
  • Does the athlete have a recurring injury to watch?
  • What is (s)he doing to prepare for more hours of training?
  • How is the athlete recovering?
  • How many sports is the athlete playing?
  • Is (s)he in-season? Off-season?
  • Is the athlete working towards collegiate or professional soccer?

Take on too few hours, and you miss out on developing to your full potential.

Avoiding Comparisons with Peers

When a youth athlete grows into an adolescent, with all of the physical and emotional changes, they become more susceptible to overtraining. Their bodies aren’t developed enough to handle the load from year-round, organized sports, nor are their brains developed enough to deal with the obligations and stress. Kids need to be kids. They aren’t professional athletes. Even the pros have an off-season to recover, then build themselves up again.

Anecdotal reports suggest risks of “burnout” from physical and emotional stress, missed social and educational opportunities, and disruptions of family life.

Nutrition and Hydration for Young Athletes

Essential Nutrients for Soccer Players

Young soccer players need a balanced diet to fuel their training and games. Essential nutrients include carbohydrates for energy, proteins for muscle repair, and fats for overall health. Vitamins and minerals are also crucial. For instance, calcium and vitamin D are essential for bone health, while iron helps transport oxygen. A well-rounded diet ensures young athletes can perform at their best and recover quickly.

Importance of Staying Hydrated

Staying hydrated is vital for young athletes, especially during intense training sessions and matches. Dehydration can lead to decreased performance and even serious health issues. Encourage your child to drink water before, during, and after training. Sports drinks can be useful for replenishing electrolytes lost through sweat, but water should be the primary source of hydration.

Pre- and Post-Training Nutrition Tips

What your child eats before and after training can significantly impact their performance and recovery. A pre-training meal should be rich in carbohydrates and moderate in protein. Post-training focuses on replenishing glycogen stores and repairing muscles with carbs and proteins. Here are some quick tips:

  • Pre-Training: A banana with peanut butter or a small bowl of oatmeal.
  • Post-Training: A smoothie with fruits and yogurt or a turkey sandwich.

Remember, balance with academics and rest is crucial. Proper nutrition and hydration are just as important as the training itself.

Proper nutrition and hydration are crucial for young athletes to perform at their best. Ensuring they get the right balance of nutrients and stay hydrated can significantly affect their energy levels and overall performance.


Finding the right balance in youth soccer training is crucial. While it’s essential to develop skills and foster a love for the game, overtraining can lead to burnout and injuries. Keep an eye on the signs of fatigue and stress, and remember that more isn’t always better. By prioritizing rest and recovery and tailoring training to the individual needs of each young player, we can help them enjoy the sport and reach their full potential without compromising their well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much training is too much for youth soccer?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but youth soccer players should generally not exceed 18-20 hours of training per week. Overtraining can lead to physical and mental burnout.

What are the signs of overtraining in youth soccer players?

Signs of overtraining include persistent fatigue, frequent injuries, decreased performance, loss of interest in the sport, and emotional changes such as increased irritability or anxiety.

How important are recovery days for young soccer players?

Recovery days are crucial for young athletes. They allow their bodies to rest and repair, which helps prevent injuries and improve overall performance.

How can parents and coaches balance training and rest for youth soccer players?

Creating a balanced schedule that includes adequate rest days, listening to the child’s feedback, and adjusting training intensity based on their needs can help maintain a healthy balance.

What role do nutrition and hydration play in youth soccer training?

Proper nutrition and hydration are essential for young athletes. They provide the necessary energy for training and recovery and help prevent injuries and fatigue.

When should professional help be sought for a youth soccer player?

Professional help should be sought if a young player shows signs of overtraining, such as persistent pain, emotional distress, or if their performance significantly declines despite adequate rest.



As a soccer coach and graduate in Physical Education, I bring a wealth of expertise to the field. My coaching philosophy combines technical precision with a passion for player well-being. With a commitment to fostering both skill and sportsmanship, I aim to empower athletes, nurturing their growth not only as players but as individuals on the journey to success.


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *