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Staying Healthy + Competitive as an Adult

With more kids growing up playing, increased media coverage and the success of the US Women’s National Team, “The Beautiful Game” has become increasingly popular with adults.  I have come across many players that are both new to the sport or have played for years.

I am still so impressed when I go out to the fields on a weekend and see adults of all ages and abilities playing. In the hope of more players “surviving the seasons” and continuing to play, here are four ways to stay healthy when playing soccer:

1)  Weekend Warriors have it tough

If you are lacing ‘em up once a week and are able to stay fit and healthy, I commend you!  Most of us mortal beings need to do some physical activity throughout the week in order to be okay for a more strenuous game day.  Weight training is always a good idea, especially in the core and lower body, as it builds strength in the same muscles and tendons that will be used in soccer.

Functional lifts like squats, lunges and RDL’s are great for mobility and balance. Incorporate these movements into your workout when possible!

2)  Cardio is King

Soccer is certainly a challenging sport due to the large amount of running and use of the heart and lungs. If you’ve ever asked someone to play soccer that hasn’t before, they typically have a reaction that revolves around the question “why would I submit myself to all that running?”

If you train yourself appropriately, I would argue that anyone can play. Contrary to old school thought (including my youth coaches), going out and running multiple miles or my personal favorite, 120’s, will not prepare you best for even a casual game of soccer.

Soccer involves moderate activity (jogging and walking), combined with short bursts of high intensity actions (sprinting, change direction, jumping, striking a ball). To prepare yourself best, mix jogging and walking in with higher intensity, shorter sprints.

Fitness Hipsters would call it HIIT training.

If you are up for a challenge and want to test your soccer endurance, the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test is a great one. Try it!

3)  The Warm Up

A major part of staying healthy when playing soccer is how you prepare yourself for a match. Each individual is of course different, but there are some basics to adhere to:

  • Choose dynamic movements over static stretching
  • Start with lighter activity and graduate to higher intensity- Striking long balls right away may not be the greatest idea
  • If you decide to skip the warm up, spend the first few minutes of play jogging and avoiding high intensity movements like sprinting and jumping

4) Common Soccer Injuries

Lower extremity injuries are the most common in soccer-  These include rolled ankles, twisted knees, bruised thighs and broken bones to name a few.

Many of these injuries occur with or without contact when the feet and legs are outstretched. While some injuries are unavoidable, do your best to keep your feet below your hip line as much as possible using these tips:

  • When going to tackle the ball, be patient and avoid reaching your leg out.
  • When jumping, take off straight up and absorb the landing with a wide base about hip width.
  • When in possession of the ball, have your arms by your sides with your elbows bent and be ready for any contact.  This will help you create distance from defenders and some natural balance.

A common “Golden Rule” is if at any point you can be pushed over easily when you’re playing, you are not playing on balance.

Use these tips the next time you’re on the turf to get the most out of play time as an adult! Now that we have these tips memorized, let’s play!

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