Posts Tagged ‘soccer’

Sore Knees? Here’s How to Fix Knee Pain

Knee Pain

Due to the nature of the sport, soccer players tend to have a high risk of knee injuries, but by including certain exercises you can help prevent these injuries, or speed up recovery post-injury. I had to learn this the hard way…

Back in 2004 I was taking Judo lessons in my quest to become a legitimate bad-ass. During one grappling session with another big bull-headed guy, I ended up awkwardly twisting during a throw and suddenly “POP”, there goes my ACL.

I opted to have ACL reconstruction surgery, after which I was surprised and disappointed to discover that my knee wasn’t recovering as quickly as I’d expected. I tried everything: physio, massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, laser, etc. I’d get temporary relief at best, but my strength and stability wasn’t there when I hit the gym. I just couldn’t get my medial quad to contract properly. Even after several months nothing seemed to work… until I ran into some professionals who guided me toward a different approach.

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Soccer Training Equipment and Accessories

The sport of soccer requires its athletes to possess speed, endurance, agility, technical ability (skill), as well as strength. Yes, a stronger soccer athlete will have greater potential to excel in other areas of athletic ability.  Looking at this list of physical attributes it’s easy to understand how important it is to train consistently for this sport… an athlete can’t simply rely on “natural talent”.

In order to facilitate a solid soccer training routine it helps to have access to certain training accessories. The following training tools are not absolute necessities (as I’ve said before the only absolutely necessary equipment needed to play and train for soccer is a ball and your own body), but they can certainly help you improve your skills and fitness.

Soccer Training Accessories

Agility Ladder:

The agility ladder is a simple piece of equipment used for training footwork, speed, and agility drills. A basic ladder can be home-made or purchased for minimum cost, as seen here:

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El Clasico 2012 Pitted 2 Best Teams & 2 Best Players in World

The first Clasico of the season certainly lived up to all the hype and expectations. As the level of football on display was exhilarating from start to finish and unlike recent clashes between these 2 super teams, there was no sending off of players; not too much diving or play acting; very few incidents of haranguing the referee, and the 2 managers behaved themselves.

Tito Villanova the manager sprung a huge surprise at the start of the game by picking left back Adriano as 1 of his center backs instead of Alex Song or youngster Bartra in place of regular center backs Carlos Puyol the captain who broke his arm and Gerard Pique who failed a late fitness test.

Jose Mourinho had the relatively easier task of picking 1 out of 3 very gifted playmakers in Luka Modric, Kaka or Mesut Ozil. In the end he went for Ozil.

The match itself pitted the 2 most talked about players in the world in Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as to who is the best in the world and neither disappointed as far as goal scoring was concerned. And with the player that eclipsed both to win European player of the year, Andres Iniesta making his comeback from injury, we had arguably the best 3 players on the planet on show.

 

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Proper Nutrition Helps Soccer Players Blast Through 2nd-Half Slump

Research suggests soccer players need better nutrition

Despite soccer being the most popular sport in the world, there has been little scientific research related to the nutritional needs of soccer players.  Thankfully more studies are now being conducted, and the more recent research indicates that soccer athletes need to follow similar nutrition guidelines to marathon runners.  At first this connection between high-endurance athletes and soccer players seemed strange to me, because soccer is a power sport involving sprints and explosiveness rather than slow long duration running.  But it makes sense when you consider the actual breakdown of the various activities a soccer player will perform during a typical soccer game, which include:

  • running at a moderate pace for a total of 10-11 kilometres
  • accelerating 40-60 different times
  • sprinting for about 800-1200 metres
  • changing direction about every five seconds

Now, soccer players still don’t cover the same total distance of a full marathon during a typical game, but they still quickly deplete their muscle’s glycogen stores because of the alternate fast and slow running.  It’s the high level of intensity at which soccer athletes exert themselves that speeds up the depletion of glycogen (how the muscles store carbohydrates for energy).  Take into account that a soccer match lasts 90 minutes, which is more than long enough to deplete muscle glycogen, and it’s easy to see how this can increase fatigue and reduce athletic performance.

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A Strong Core Improves Performance

Because all movement originates from the core, it’s important for soccer athletes to develop a strong midsection to improve performance with other compound exercises and athletic movements. First of all it’s important to recognize that your “core” is more than just your abs. It includes all of the muscles in your torso that support the spine and midsection, including:

  • Rectus Abdominis. – The abdominal muscle group referred to as your “six-pack”.
  • Internal and External Obliques. – These run in opposite directions to each other and are on the abdomen and sides.
  • Transverse Abdominis (TVA). – This is the deepest layer of abdominal muscles that wrap around the waist, located underneath the obliques.
  • Multifidus & Erector Spinae. – The lower back muscles that support and rotate the spine.
  • Gluteus Medius, Minimus, & Maximus. – These are the butt muscles or “glutes”.

The names of these muscles aren’t really important, but it’s good to have an idea of what muscles we’ll be working on, and where they are on your body. The main function of your core muscles is to control movement of your entire torso, as well as providing stability and resisting movement. The exercises shown in the videos below will target each of these main muscle groups.

When you first start training your core, strength should be developed progressively by learning how to engage the core musculature with static contractions. This is accomplished by using Core Activation exercises as in the video below, which I’ve posted before:

Once a decent base of core strength has been developed, and you have learned how to “brace” from your midsection, then a variety of core exercises can be added to your strength training program. Here are a few of the core exercises we typically include in our workouts:

One of my favorite core training accessories is the Power Wheel. You can perform a number of challenging exercises using the ‘Wheel’, and a university study actually rated it as the best core trainer in the world, based on how well it works all of your supporting midsection muscles.  Check it out at Strongest Core.com

After building sufficient core strength using some of the exercises demonstrated above, and once you can perform them easily without any lower back discomfort, then core strength and stability can be effectively maintained simply by incorporating compound exercises into your program, such as the squat, deadlift, single arm standing press, and through the use of body-weight only training (as shown in the video below). It is still practical to include some direct core isolation work to specifically target the midsection. Check out this video… she’s pretty impressive! Guaranteed you need a strong core to performance those exercises:

Conclusion:

The great thing about building powerful core muscles is that this will also improve your progress in every other area of your training, because your core supports movement in every other part of your body. Also, as part of complete training and nutrition plan, these exercises will help you achieve a stronger, leaner, solid-looking waistline. Try incorporating some of these exercises into your own workouts and let me know what you think!

Train smart and stay fit,

Josh

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