Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world. It does not matter if one plays professionally or just for fun. As part of the process, soccer players ideally train and try to keep their bodies in prime position to play.
In soccer, there are high and low moments that players go through in the course of their careers. Injuries may come or the dreaded loss of form. Such instances affect how they play the game and their overall mentality.
A soccer player that stays fit is more likely to perform on the field of play. Think about fatigue levels that may crop up because of being unfit or lack of enough training which prepares you to play.
It is possible for a soccer player to play and achieve some level of success even when he or she is out of shape. We have seen other cases whereby top players such as Eden Hazard, who signed for Real Madrid in 2019, struggle with fitness for a long time since his big money move.
Does it mean that you cannot play soccer when you are out of shape? Will there be long-term consequences of playing when your body is in that state? Let us look to address these a bit more.
How to play soccer when you’re out of shape?
It is no secret that soccer is better played when the body is in shape. However, there are times when we may not be in the best physical condition.
It is possible to play soccer when in this position. There are several ways to go about it.
The most common way to play soccer when out of shape is by working on your fitness levels. It is not possible to do this overnight or in a week. Even the best soccer players in the world struggle with this.
Set up a training schedule that enables you to win on both sides. On one end, you will be playing the sport you love and on the other, you will progressively get your body in optimal shape each day.
Schedule days or sessions in a week that you will work on different aspects of the game such as ball control, leg work, stamina drills and even shooting.
Prepares the body for soccer
Only good things can come out of stressing your body progressively with the intention of building up your fitness levels. This gets the body primed for the intense nature of playing soccer.
Endurance and fatigue management
Secondly, working on your fitness on the side while out of shape enhances your endurance. There will be fewer and fewer moments of feeling fatigued when you almost religiously continue with your routines.
Body or injury aggravation
There is the risk of aggravating an injury or parts of your body if you push yourself too hard or too fast all at once in the name of trying to get fit. The body needs progressive stresses that build up with each session as opposed to a full-blown workout mode.
Food and nutrition
It is important to watch what you eat when you are out of shape.
The kinds of food you eat will either work for you or against you when it comes to burning calories, breaking down fat, and increasing your energy in mind.
Point to note is that, it does not mean you go hungry in a bid to lose weight or cut down. Dieting is designed to help you take good quantities of food while you remain active.
Have at least a serving of vegetables in every meal you take. They provide you with nutrients and vitamins while also having low calories.
Consider switching to white meat such as poultry and fish.
Red meat should be taken in moderation (approximately what would fill the palm of your hand). Plant protein such as peas are ideal options to eat. Replace sweet snacks and cravings with fruits every day.
Remember to also sleep well (at least 7 hours).
Eating right will keep your body healthy and enable prime functioning when it is put to the test through physical training and recovery post-training.
The body will have the necessary nutrients to adapt to the change in intensity when called upon. A meal plan will help you establish the right diet needed when regaining your shape for soccer.
It is imperative that you play tactical soccer especially when you are out of shape. Let us take a case example of rugby.
Let us say that a 6 ft 5, 350-pound center is charging at a 5 ft 6, 160-pound opponent, what is the best option for bringing the bigger man down?
The smaller man cannot dare attempt to go toe-to-toe with him. However, he can bring him down by aiming for the legs which will slow down the momentum.
Similarly, playing tactical soccer involves positioning.
If you are a full back, for example, do not press high up the field as you will lack the pace to make recovery runs when you are out of shape.
When it comes to tackles and physical battles, commit strategically to minimize injury or strains.
Being tactful in your approach especially when your body is not in prime condition will help you avoid overexerting yourself which could lead to some physical damage.
Someone who has not trained consistently for a year will not be as physically prepared as the one who just got back after a year without training.
Therefore, tactful play enables this type of soccer player to make smarter decisions that will protect their body and manage fatigue levels as well.
The duration you play soccer when out of shape is key in determining how fast or slow you will be eased into the game as you build on your fitness levels. It is important to time yourself ensure your body takes in only so much.
Have timed matches or soccer play durations in which you will stop regardless of how much involvement you had in those matches or sessions. Maybe you can be subbed out after 10 minutes or 15 minutes of play.
Break down the play duration into phases. For example, you can break them down into four weeks in a month that you dedicate expressively for ‘reintroduction to soccer’.
So in week one, you will have some training sessions and limit yourself to the number of minutes you play.
In the subsequent weeks, you can gradually increase the duration of the training and even do some mock match sessions to mirror what you will face in actual matches against opponents.
Doing so will help your body adjust and adapt.
Incorporating timing into your training sessions as well as playing routine enables your body to adapt progressively to the demands of the sport. It prevents burnout.
Remember, the longer you play when out of shape, the more susceptible you become to injuries and strains as the body is not properly conditioned for that duration of play.
Apart from the physical aspect of being able to play the game, there is the skills side as well.
Build your confidence up by performing simple drills.
Start slow with simple ball touches and juggling where possible while increasing the frequency of doing so.
The main benefits include helping with the first touch, eye-foot coordination, and balance. Building these skills alone is a benefit to being an effective contributor on the pitch.
You will be in a position to do the simpler things such as making ground passes and setting your teammates up to find open spaces.
Starting a new routine in a new team could help you mentally as there is less pressure on yourself to be instantly back to the levels you were before in the previous team.
A new team provides the opportunity to learn new systems that you may not be accustomed to and you can work your way from scratch
There will be fewer chances of esteem issues or lack of confidence as you will be a couple of fresh faces.
Change of team means new opportunities and avenues to learn.
It frees the mind from being scrutinized by players and coaches that you may already know when you are trying to recover your form.
This enables you to fully focus on getting up to speed with your skills, stamina and overall play.
It is not a given that you will settle in a new team easily.
They may have systems that are grueling which will be counterproductive and go against the motive of ‘easing’ you back into soccer.
There is that element of risk that it could go either way when in a new environment.
Getting back to shape especially after a lengthy spell without playing soccer can prove to be difficult.
However, things can be made smoother with a little adjustment in terms of times of training sessions as well as playing under limited time in the first phases.
Playing tactical is also key as you are involved less in soccer areas that expose you to injuries, knocks, strains and quick fatigue as a result of being out of shape.
Ensuring that one’s positioning on the pitch is right can help mitigate the issue of having to overcommit when running or making a lot of tackles.
It is not all about fitness when out of shape. Think about how to increase your sharpness when with the ball. Work on your skills on the side. Go back to the basics such as shooting, passing, ball coordination, and control.
You can have an accountability partner to help with making these adjustments right up to the point that you reach the levels that you desire.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!