The weekend… A great time to kick back and relax, enjoy great food and friends, or get caught up on rest, OR travel and play soccer games all over the world. Weekends are sabotaging your soccer game if you are not eating right. Players train throughout the week to be ready for competition on the weekends. Then by Sunday night, players feel more exhausted than perhaps they should. While running and heat can add to fatigue, proper preparation and fitness should be standard preventative measures for these things. Here are a few things that you might find you are also competing with during your weekends.
Food you eat & what you drink
Kids often model parent behavior… If parents work out hard during the week and have food ‘cheat’ days on the weekends, the kids also have the extra indulgences to which they’re not accustomed.
On the other hand, there are parents who eat healthy and tell their kids to, but some youngsters only like unhealthy stuff…
It’s so important that you (players) are more disciplined! Oftentimes as an athlete you have to do things you don’t want to. Eating healthy is one because it helps your body perform better.
Also, when traveling on the weekends, healthy eating is more difficult due to lack of multiple viable options.
I recommend preparing these healthy snacks ahead of time for travel days as one option. Eating healthy is going to raise your soccer game and overall health.
3 big problems athletes often face
- a lack of awareness of what is IN the food [e.g., additives, sugars, & bad fats]
- too much sodium and not enough water [just because you run and sweat a lot does not mean that you should pour on the salt] But at the same time you can actually flush the sodium with too much water and not enough sodium, which will cause muscle cramps.
- a lack of knowledge as to what type of diet is best for your body ‘type’ [by this I mean do you perform and feel better on a heavy carbohydrate diet or do you notice you do better with greater protein?].
Being a bigger soccer player
As a bigger soccer player I found that I didn’t need as much carbs.
I played at a lighter faster weight when I just ate the normal amount of protein [usually chicken served by the team] and then would just eat a half the noodles. And I always felt rice helped me play lighter compared to heavy pasta.
Smaller players can usually eat more with no effect, although in tournaments the bigger players should eat more carbs than if it was just one game, because players use & need so much energy in the tournaments.
No matter your body needs, even if you do well with food choices during the week, you need to continue those choices into the weekend.
Choose additional foods during competition that promote muscle recovery [like this one].
Many pro athletes take naps during the day to recover… Youth players should do the same.
Sleep & Rest habits [& no, these are not the same]
You probably get tired of hearing this one from me but rest matters!
Especially today kids are so busy and parents are busy and everyone else is so busy – finding time to get adequate sleep and truly rest [the mind, body, & spirit] is challenging at best unless you schedule time for it.
This helps your mind and muscles recover so that when your soccer game starts you are full of energy and adrenaline not stress and fatigue.
Don’t stress during the soccer journey
I hear from parents that fear their child will ‘lose out’ by not being in the top leagues, on the best teams.
Have you read the stories of some of the most successful soccer players representing our country [men & women]?
Some of them did not come from the ‘best’ background or even start playing club until they were teens.
Your soccer game, your life
So if your child is under 13 years of age and playing for a top club, but the schedule is not working for your family schedule THEN DON’T DO IT!
The important thing at the younger ages is to get proper training and then, getting playing time in the games.
Your soccer game could start to effect you if you are sitting on the bench 70% of the time. That’s just not fun!
Kids cannot perform their best if the family unit is stressed out. Do not only prepare physically, but provide time for your mental game. Preparation helps by creating a schedule that allows for psychological rest and getting a full night of sleep.
Get school work done before your soccer game
For younger soccer players who are not driving yet, take advantage and do your school homework while driving to practice or tournaments.
This will give you more time at home or whatever you want to do outside of school or soccer. This will also help you build good habits to manage your time in the future too. One of the greatest skills you can have to be honest.
Time is more and more valuable as you get older. Not to mention getting your school work done early will give you more time to work on your soccer game.
Playing soccer only lasts so long, but your education is a lifetime.
Emotional drama [which ruins your focus]
Touchy subject so there is your warning. Functioning your best when you do not have rest is difficult to say the least [I had to stop the rhyming somewhere]. Especially as kids get older there is so much to be involved in because we are all primarily relational by nature.
Friendships, relationships, families, teams and more create a huge amount of material to sort through and relate.
The family unit should be a place for kids to find some emotional grounding.
If you find your child is preoccupied by other events, talk to them. Distracted playing is dangerous.
Kids are so relational to their peer group and are still developing their emotional recognition and coping mechanisms they may not realize the drain that keeping up with their peers’ ins-and-outs is causing.
Youngsters need guidance on how to sort through the emotions and choose their focus.
How to guide these areas?
How can you guide these areas as a parent?
I once heard a mentor give the following example: If your child is primarily a ‘thinker’ then you must teach them to filter their thoughts from their brain through their heart. Have them consider the emotional or physical impact of their decision making.
For example, if your child loves sports but is not as athletic as a teammate, encourage him in his choices by saying, “The smallest decisions add up to a make a great impact.
By your choosing to get rest tonight before the game instead of stay up late playing a video game you will be sharper in all aspects tomorrow for the game.”
If your child is primarily a ‘feeler’ then you must teach them to filter their emotions from their heart through their brain.
After you validate your child’s feelings [“I understand you are upset”] have them consider the truths of a situation instead of what they feel or perceive about it.
EX: if your child feels that they are not performing well this season or the coach doesn’t like them. Offer them physical proof of improving game stats or point out all the things the coach has said affirming them.
small things + small things = HUGE impact
Remember that you as a parent are the first and most important coach for your child.
Teaching them to recognize the little ways that their choices and habits can influence their game in a big way is important for them and for you.
This practice will help your family keep a better perspective on what really matters. I hope this helps you improve ‘your soccer game’!
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