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Local soccer programs figuring out best way to restart

Local soccer coaches are trying to formulate plans that’ll best benefit their teams now that a shortened period of summer practices is fast approaching.

Sporting activities are allowed to resume June 1, according to the Mississippi High School Activities Association, after over three months of prohibiting any athletic or extra curricular activities.

Now teams across the county are getting back into the swing of things after missing out on a significant portion of practice, and for some programs, competitive game time.

The soccer season had ended prior to the shut down of sports due to COVID-19, but the programs were still affected by the closure.

The offseason portion of the year is integral for soccer programs when it comes to developing talent, keeping players in shape and making possible formation changes.

Now it’s up to the coaches and players in those programs to make the best out of an unprecedented situation.

Poplarville Boys Soccer

Head Coach Luke Gipson said conditioning would be the main priority when practices start back up again.

Athletes were supposed to be working out at home during quarantine, but it’s still important to get the players back in playing shape as soon as possible.

Following the conditioning practice sessions, the emphasis will change into skill and formation work.

Some athletes may have been kicking a ball around at home, but it’s still necessary to go back to the fundamentals and shake off any rust that may have built up during quarantine.

The fewer number of practices means instead of giving his athletes more time to acclimate to the intensity of the workouts Gipson will have to implement certain aspects of practice earlier in the offseason than usual.

“I like to ease them into it. We do a lot of conditioning and team building stuff. We’ll still do that, but there will be more importance on doing skills earlier,” Gipson said.

Picayune Girls Soccer

The Picayune Lady Maroon Tide soccer team wasn’t able to hold tryouts prior to the closure of schools, which means Head Coach Ed Williams isn’t sure who will make up the varsity roster.

Getting through the tryout process will be the number one priority for the team once activities resume so the squad can quickly move into full practices.

Like Gipson, Williams will prioritize conditioning when activities resume.

The team is returning most of its starters from last season after only graduating two seniors, so the majority of players understand what’s expected of them.

Still, there will be a learning curve for the returning athletes, and definitely for the new additions to the squad as the team tries to figure out how to proceed in a pandemic.

“It’s all about getting them to figure out how to work together as a team. (They need to) learn the principles of the game, how we want to attack and defend and get the new kids acclimated to the system,” Williams said.

The current plan for the Lady Maroon Tide, which is subject to change, is to have practices Monday through Thursday starting at 9 a.m. and ending around 10:30 a.m. The practices will be intense and wide ranging, so Williams is trying to put together a plan that works best in a pandemic.

“It’s going to be difficult with the heat and trying to balance a number of factors. We’ll try to get in conditioning shape, or at least acclimate them to playing again,” Williams said.