Soccer Academy: ‘Train intelligently’ when it gets hot out
Don’t forget the water breaks
Brazil’s Neymar drinks after his team’s warm-up in Fortaleza, Brazil, last week, where games were stopped for water breaks for the first time in World Cup history. Here in B.C., soaring temperatures across the province have also highlighted the need to stay hydrated when playing games or training.
Photograph by: Natacha Pisarenko, AP
With unusual scorching temperatures across the Lower Mainland, it’s important for players and coaches to “train intelligently.”
“In the heat there’s more potential harm than benefit,” said Rob Williams, practicing kinesiologist and medical exercise specialist with Exceed Athletic Performance. “Around here it doesn’t usually stay super hot for a long time, so for coaches or athletes, training intelligently is most important.”
According to Williams, overexertion in soaring temperatures could not only lead to dehydration (one of its first side effects being cramps), but also heat exhaustion or heat stroke, “which is a lot more risky.”
With temperatures pushing 30C, internal body temperature and heart rate escalate more quickly, so Williams’ first suggestion is to adjust training times to the morning, preferably before 10 a.m. when it’s coolest, and to find a location with lots of shade.
He also suggests reducing intensity and cutting back the duration of training by about 25 per cent.
“If for the next four or five days it’s going to be warmer, then cut back on the intensity to be safe. ... (It) isn’t going to hurt your performance as much as you think,” he said. “If you miss a run today you’re actually probably going to come out ahead of the game — you probably need a rest anyway.”
According to Markus Reinkens with B.C. Soccer, summer training sessions should be kept “short and sharp,” at no more than 90 minutes for youth players (13 and up) and no more than 60 minutes for 12 and under.
And when teams are out in the sun for prolonged periods of times, like at weekend-long summer tournaments, Reinkens suggests quick tips to keep cool like changing socks at halftime (“a fresh pair of socks really helps to cool the body”), walking barefoot through cool water, finding shade and wearing hats and sunscreen.
But, of course, the most important tip for summertime games and training is to stay hydrated.
“Never withhold water,” said Williams, adding that players should be allowed to take “as many water breaks as they want.”
Reinkens even suggests water breaks during games if needed.
“If that weather is over 29C, 30C — you should be including water breaks within the game format,” he said.
It’s also not enough to only hydrate during exercise, said Williams, as “most of your hydration for any performance or bout of exercise comes from even the day before.”
So players need to plan ahead and be “pre-hydrated.”
“Depending upon if you’re training in the morning, the fluids that you took in the previous day are going to be what’s going to determine whether or not you function optimally,” said Williams. “So don’t count on hydrating during your training session or your competition ... or else you’ll be going into exercise already in a state of dehydration.”
“By the time you’re thirsty you’re already dehydrated — so proactive hydration is a lot better than waiting until you’re thirsty.”
He also suggests only taking small, steady sips during exercise “so you don’t end up with a bunch of fluid in your gut,” and, of course, to hydrate immediately post-workout to replenish lost fluids.
“As a coach, be smart — back off training, keep cool, drink lots of water and take the intensity down,” said Williams. “If we knew it was going to be like this for the next two months, then they’ve got to build a strategy around that.”
“When we have four or five days of heat — let’s just all be smart about it.”
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