Grassroots level is where young athletes learn the basics of any sport. Soccer is no different. During this stage they learn and improve on every area beginning with passing, dribbling, and shooting. It’s also here where the likes of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s very own Karim Benzema, honed their skills before becoming world-class players. As we should know by now, all the hours dedicated to drills and conditioning didn’t stop the time they turned pro. Truth be told, it was just the start of a long, hard, and ultimately rewarding journey.
International soccer stars and Champions League competitors like Messi and Benzema didn’t reach the peak of their respective careers through skills alone. A standard 90-minute game of soccer requires close-to-perfect fitness, covering strength, cardio, and endurance. Stephen Tudor, a sports correspondent who regularly writes for Betfair and its Champion’s League section of the site, gives us a rundown of what it takes to maintain peak fitness in the modern game. In the article he details how the modern professional typically covers around 12km a game, which means the likes of Messi and Benzema have to have optimal fitness levels at all times.
Now if there’s another common trait between the two besides their world-class skills, it’s their topnotch conditioning. Knowing how to pass, dribble, and shoot isn’t enough to succeed, as players also need the right physical and mental conditioning, as well as the practice of proper hydration.
Race Smart discussed the importance of hydration and electrolyte replacement for endurance athletes. Based on this piece, we get the general idea on how to apply it to soccer players’ and other team sport athletes’ training regimens. In addition to the physical and mental factors of the sport, a typical game also has external facets that may or may not have certain effects on our bodies. Since soccer is a strenuous activity that requires high amounts of physical and mental effort, we tend to lose water at a faster rate.
One of the most discounted facets of fitness is the correct replacement of lost fluids. Keeping our bodies hydrated, especially when training at a high pace, allows our hearts to effectively pump blood through its vessels and into the muscles. Consequently, we get more out of every movement. On the contrary, the improper practice of hydration can lead to adverse effects such as headache, muscle cramps, and heat stroke.
Behind all the excitement of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 early this year, this time also encourages kids – aspiring athletes to be exact – to watch and be inspired by the best players in the world. In a way, it presents these promising stars the perfect avenue to learn the different ways and philosophies established soccer players follow to succeed as professionals.
From beginner to novice soccer players, athletes in general, an important part of progress is the knowledge and the practice of proper hydration. Think of our bodies as Formula One race cars and fluids as the turbo gasoline that runs the engine. If we plan to duplicate these athletes’ success on the pitch, the track, or whichever sport we’re interested in, then we have to put a premium on water as much as skill.
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