PRC soccer working on fundamentals

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The scorching Mississippi sun beat down on Pearl River Central soccer players as they began their afternoon practice.

Both the boys and girls soccer squads ran through their drills as Head Coach Joe Weems, Assistant Coach Cody Mikell, and Paraprofessional Assistant John Trahan watched on.

The athletes were drenched in sweat after only a couple minutes of drills, but that didn’t slow the pace of the practice.

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Weems was constantly moving amongst the players as they worked, reminding them that body language is important.

“The way you’re standing tells me everything I need to know,” Weems said to the players. “The way you’re standing shows whether you want to be here or not.”

The motivation did its job, and the athletes continued working diligently on their technique.

It’s currently offseason for the squads, and because of that Weems said the players are a bit rusty.

“For the most part we’ve been working on touch drills,” Weems said. “Having a clean touch and keeping the ball close to you is extremely important,” Mikell said.

While the girls went through a number of drills focused on receiving the ball cleanly, the boys were in the midst of a game of keep away.

The athletes had been divided up into two separate squares, with the players around the outside of the square not allowed to challenge for the ball.

In the center of each square, two athletes had to battle each other for possession, and once one of them had control they could use the players on the outside as outlets to pass to.

The drill was focused on movement off the ball, and also helps with conditioning due to the constant motion of the athletes.

Perfecting specific techniques and routines is the main goal for Weems and his staff.

The reason being that both teams, but especially the boys’ team, have lost a decent amount of experience compared to last year’s squads.

“We haven’t been this green in awhile,” Weems said.

“But it’ll be exciting to see how they come together and play.”

That inexperience is why Weems is using these offseason practices not only as a way to evaluate his players’ best positions, but also to develop the talent he has available.

“The curve is going to be huge for some of the guys because we have a lot of guys who didn’t even play last year,” Weems said about the boys varsity squad.

“We have a bunch of guys who didn’t play a lot last year, or weren’t even on the team, and then a small group of experienced players.”

The girls team however is a more experienced group, but that hasn’t stopped Weems from having them focus on fundamentals as well.

In both cases, the offseason practices gives the athletes time to condition themselves physically, but also mentally.

“Soccer is one of those sports where you have to be mentally strong,” Mikell said. “You have to be able to keep your head.”

The season is still a couple of months away, and Weems said that come game time his squads would be ready.