Week 1 - Hydration
Hydration is an important part of daily health and it can enhance or hinder your performance on the soccer field. A general ballpark is individuals should drink half of their body weight in ounces. Daily factors to consider are exercise intensity and duration, weather, and many more.
A great way to make sure you are staying properly hydrated is tracking your water intake though apps on a cell phone. Examples: My Water & Drink Reminder, Drink Water Reminder N Tracker, Water Reminder- Daily Tracker.
Challenge: Download one of the apps mentioned & track your water intake on a rest day & day of activity!
Week 2 - Enhance your Hydration
While proper hydration will improve every system in the body, function better and minimize risk of injury and muscle cramping, it can get boring and flavorless. Change it up by adding in cut up fruit into your water or small packets of dehydrated citrus fruit like lemon, lime, or grapefruit. Another option is flavor-infused ice cubes by adding in a few drops of fresh juice or fruit in each tray. Most importantly, stray away from products that are ‘flavored’ as more often than not, it is due to fake sugars and artificial ingredients. Challenge: Try a new flavor combination in your water for 3 days this week to find your favorite kind!
Week 3 - Pre Workout Fueling
Having energy throughout a training session or game, especially on days where players have school or even other sports activities, is a challenge for many youth athletes. Fueling the body properly is essential for optimal performance on the playing field. Take a look at this article to learn more about WHEN to eat and WHAT to eat prior to training. Always keep in mind that every athlete is different and it is important to experiment to see what works for YOU! https://truesport.org/nutrition/pre-workout-fueling/
Challenge: Experiment with how long prior to a session you need to fuel your body so you can have energy the entire time!
Week 4 - Post Workout Recovery
Part of being an athlete is knowing how to re-energize your body after a training session. While you might be starving and want to eat whatever is easily accessible, properly fueling your body with foods that are optimal for recovery are important. Athletes should be able to assess if the session was high, medium, or low intensity as this will help them gauge the timing and needs of refueling. Take a look at this article to see some of the best ways to start your recovery through food: https://truesport.org/wp-content/uploads/TrueFood_Recovery-Snacks.pdf
Challenge: Try one new recover snack this week after a training session!
Week 5 - The Importance of Sleep
The importance of sleep in both youth and adults is often overlooked when in actuality, it is a contributing factor to overall mental and physical health well-being. For youth athletes who may be involved in multiple sports, on numerous soccer teams, and have school work to complete, proper sleep will aid them in many ways. It will help athletes repair and recover muscles, maintain mental focus, manage stress, have enough energy, enhance coordination, obtain muscle growth, decrease likelihood of injuries, and contribute to performance on and off the field.
Based on most recent research, adolescents should be obtaining at least 9 hours a night. Unfortunately, most are only obtaining 7.5 to 8.5 hours.
The Gatorade Sports Science Institute dives deeper into this topic of sleep in athletes in a study published in 2017. Take a look at their article to learn more.
Challenge: Track your sleep this week using a sleep app such as SleepWatch and see how well you do!
Week 6 - Reducing Screen Time Before Sleep
After last week’s information on Sleep, we now know just how important it is. There are natural things youth players and adults can do to aid in experiencing a better night’s sleep. This can include making sure you are in a comfortable sleep environment (black-out curtains, eye mask, quality sheets), taking a warm bath or shower to increase sleepiness before bed, no screen time 30 minutes before sleeping, and many more.
US Soccer takes a deeper look into factors that can aid athletes in getting the optimal night’s rest as well as factors that may be hindering their sleep patterns. Take a look at US Soccer’s information on their website.
Challenge: So many of us are on our cell phones or laptops right before trying to fall asleep at night. Try taking a technology break at least 30 minutes before bed several times this week. Notice how it affects the overall quality of your sleep!