Winter is here, but the cold weather doesn’t stop most avid soccer players. Whether playing outdoors on the field or training indoors out of the cold, here are some helpful tips to keep you healthy while training for soccer.
- Warm up and stretch: This is key when it comes to equipping your body for the 60-90+ minutes ahead. Research has shown that players who take part in a comprehensive warm-up program have better knee-joint proprioception (the ability to know where your leg is in space), along with improvements in static and dynamic balance. This translates into better control over your legs, improvements in performance, and injury prevention. Your legs will thank you.
- General strength: Quadriceps, glutes, and hamstring muscles all play key roles in supporting your body when running on the field, jumping up for a header, crossing the ball, or shooting on goal. Strengthen these muscles and notice a difference in your running speed and in the power behind those passes and shots!
- Single leg balance: Most movements while on the field involve single leg activity. If your balance is poor when standing still on one leg, imagine how difficult it will be to maintain your balance in the second half of a 90 minute game. When your muscles are tired, you lose the ability to maintain stability, especially when going in for a tackle, changing direction quickly, or taking a shot.
- Core strength: The stronger your abdominals are, the better you’ll be with coordination, quick cuts on the ball, and changing direction on a dime. You’ll also have more power behind your passes and shots.
- Endurance: Most injuries in soccer occur when you’re mentally and physically ‘spent.’ The average distance that a soccer player covers when on the field during a 90 minute game was found to be approximately 6 miles, involving lots of stop and go movements, along with changes of direction. Depending on the age and level of competition, it’s beneficial to train with long endurance runs (greater than 1-2 miles approximately 2x/week, on non-practice/game days), along with short distance sprints that simulate game-like situations while at practice.
Kelsie Ganshert is a pediatric doctor of physical therapist at the CA Technologies Rehabilitation Center within Hospital for Special Surgery’s Lerner Children’s Pavilion. Her passion is working with young athletes with both upper extremity and lower extremity injuries and getting them back to their sports safely and efficiently.