FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Passing drills, possession exercises, small-sided games, tactical instruction and full-field scrimmages; all fundamental to any professional soccer team’s training sessions. But Jay Heaps doesn’t ever want to stop bringing new ideas to the table.
Five months after conducting his first training session as head coach of the New England Revolution, Heaps is making a concerted effort to keep things fresh on the practice field. Concerned that the daily workouts could become stale if too repetitive, Heaps and his staff have begun to alter the routine to maintain sharpness and avoid complacency.
“We shifted things up during training to keep things fresh,” said Heaps, who’s currently guiding the Revs through an off weekend before returning to action next weekend against the Columbus Crew. “We’re going to push them a little bit this week and into early next week and then we’ll start preparing for Columbus as we get there. These are good times to get back to our basics and fundamentals.”
Having ended his own playing career just three years ago, Heaps has a keen sense of the players’ mentality with regards to training. He’s tuned into the benefits of occasionally changing things up, but perhaps more importantly he’s aware of the potential pitfalls when following a routine for too long.
“It’s been something I loved as a player,” Heaps said. “You get into a routine because routines are great. You love a routine up to a certain point and then you like change. You don’t want too much change, but you like certain days to not fall into a certain pattern – every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday is the same thing – you hate that. You need to shake it up.
“We started that process last week after the Open Cup,” he added. “It was a set plan because we knew we’d have three days before the Chicago game. We’re just putting new ideas in. We’re making sure our guys are getting work, but we’re making sure the guys are getting fresh ideas.”
The Revs will enjoy a brief respite this weekend with no game on the schedule, but there’ll be no extended layoff as some teams have opted for during the international break. Instead, Heaps hopes to find a balance between resting tired legs and building upon the momentum created from last weekend’s 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire.
“Our guys will have the weekend off and we’re back in on Monday,” said Heaps. “I don’t want to give too much time off because we’re right in it here. We’re there. We’re trying to make sure we’re in the thick of a big next couple weeks. We want to make sure the guys are ready.”