This weekend we wrapped up another session of spring training. Spring ball, as we call it at our college, brings a whole new environment to the college soccer experience. In the fall every training session is directly related to our current performance. Games are layered with pressure to perform and to stay in the hunt for postseason play.
In the spring there is no pressure to perform and attain results on a team level. However, individual players are fighting for varsity roster spots, and starting positions on different teams.
This spring we improved every weekend of our matches. We addressed two main themes this spring; winning the ball in specific areas of the pitch, and transitioning forward with quality and quick possession into the attacking third of the field. Every week we saw players growing and adapting to the college game.
We entered spring ball with 26 players in training, and between injuries, eligibility, and the business of a student-athlete’s life we played our three dates of scrimmages with approximately 15-17 players. This was actually a huge positive to the spring season; several players surpassed our expectations and really claimed spots on the varsity roster for next fall. They showed marked improvement in their understanding of our team systems and tactics as a whole, and I will feel much more confident dipping into our bench next season when we are fighting injuries or weariness.
Overall I’ve been very encouraged with this spring ball season. Probably much more than I have in any previous spring season while here at Dakota Wesleyan University. But spring is still just spring, and the results mean nothing.
Now it’s time for the coaching staff to contemplate and agonize over what the fall season might bring during the long summer. The hardest part of coaching a fall sport is leaving the preseason preparations in the hands of 35-40 young men who are looking forward to a well deserved break. However, the summer is also a very exciting time with the endless possibilities of the season-to-come constantly on the mind.
We’ll find out in three and a half months!