Monday, 29 October 2012

Shooting a Soccer Ball While Running

It would be great if for every shot we had enough time to stop it, and set it up like a penalty kick, but soccer doesn't work that way. There are many times where you will shoot the ball while running, even at full speed. Most players don't think about it, but shooting while running is a lot harder and somewhat different to a taking a regular soccer shot. Technique varies so it is important for you to the proper technique for shooting while running.

Kicking the ball while running is an essential skill in the game of soccer. The ability to accurately pass and shoot while on the run is what separates good players from average ones. Unlike many sports, soccer requires nearly continuous running from its players. Learning how to powerfully and accurately kick the ball while running or dribbling is an essential tool for forwards, mid-fielders and defenders alike when the send the ball toward the opponent's goal. According to the web resource Expert Football, all soccer kicks come in two varieties: ground kicks that run along the field and air-born volleys. While it is possible to make either type of kick while running, the ground kick is the most common running kick because of its increased accuracy and versatility.

How to Shoot while Running
Following are some steps and methods which will surely help to improve shooting while running in the field.

Step 1

Approach the soccer ball with a running stride and mentally plan your kick in advance by deciding where on the ball you will need to kick to send it in the required direction. Run toward the ball until you are 3 to 5 feet away from the ball.

Step 2

Leap toward the ball as you approach so that your kicking foot bends up and back, nearly touching your gluteus muscles. Land your planting foot on the ground so that it is immediately behind and to the side of the soccer ball, and lean forward slightly. Begin the kick by bringing the knee of your kicking leg forward in "V" shape, and kicking the ball with you foot in a sudden snapping motion.

Step 3

Aim the big toe of your kicking foot so that it hits just below the ball's mid-section. Relax your legs and lower torso completely as you kick through the ball. Perform a mental visualization technique by imagining that your body is shattering a pane of glass as you kick the ball, allowing you to mentally propel yourself further down the field during your kick.

Step 4

English: Zarek Valentin kicking a soccer ball

Execute the long-range ground kick several times during the soccer game, or practice until you are comfortable with the accuracy and distance of your kick. For short-range kicks, gently tap the ball forward with your toe as you run in a process called dribbling.

Shooting While Running Technique

It is important that you follow the soccer shooting technique exactly except for these changes which you implement if you are running:

1. Place Foot Moved Up

When taking a shot normally, you should place your place foot even with the ball. When you are running it is vital that you place it in front of the ball. Making this change alone, will make shooting while running much easier.

2. Smaller Hop

When you are running, you don't want to lose any momentum that your speed brings. Take a smaller hop, and then explode into the ball.

Stride to the Ball

Always try to notice players attempt to shoot while running and  see the following things:
  • Short stutter steps that greatly slow the player.
  • Long strides that mess up the player.
  • Normal running, but then changed stride length when the ball is near.
One thing is common with all these mistakes; the player is greatly slowed down. What should take a few seconds can go on for 6 or 7 seconds? This gives defenders and goalies much needed time to block the shot. Learning to run naturally and strike a ball is hard, but very necessary to getting a good shot off.

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Sunday, 28 October 2012

Complementry Sports to Improve Soccer

There are many components of fitness for soccer and there are many skills that are relevant to the game. It is not surprising therefore that many soccer players have a good all-round athletic ability and can participate with reasonable competence in a range of sports. Invariably they have to abandon these other interests to concentrate on soccer if they are to realize their aspirations in the game.

    The value of a specific sport as a training stimulus is reflected in its average energy expenditure. Even so, sports that are physiologically demanding may be unsuitable if there is a risk of injury. For this reason cross-country and downhill skiing as well as contact sports should be avoided.


    Sports such as volleyball include jumping and co-ordination activities without a necessity for physical contact. These games may be employed for low-intensity activity the day following a hard training session. Alternatively, the principles of play may be modified with the ball being played with the feet or the head. In this way games skills are practiced in an unobtrusive manner and in a relaxed circumstance.

There are occasions when soccer players may not be able to take part in normal practices and have to find temporary alternatives. These circumstances include times after injury, times when travelling or staying in accommodation which has gymnasia facilities and times when weather conditions preclude training outdoors.

So lets see how different sports and training methods helps a soccer player to improve his athletic abilities and consume calories in energy production.
We will see the list of number of sports which consume calories and produce energy as well as train our bodies for every specific part.

The amount of energy which will be consumed is discussed according to body weight of persons defined as 130 lb, 155 lb, 180 lb, 205 lb.

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Friday, 26 October 2012

Types of Shooting in Soccer

In my previous post, i have discussed about shooting in soccer, how much it is important in game and how it should be improved through different techniques and methods. As we all know about shooting, how it helps in scoring goals and winning matches but probably don't know about different types of shoots which should be made in the field at different positions.

So lets first discuss about the positions from where the shots are made.

Where are the most Shots made
The heading really showed much of you to be closer to the screen and know about the perfect position from where you can score more goals, but you all are wrong this time. There is not any favorite or perfect spot from where you can almost score goals. Soccer is a sport in which you should have always create chances to score rather then to stay and wait for the perfect moment. 

Well, there may not be a definitive "sweet spot," but a recent study did take a look at where scored goals most often went into the net.
  • Top Left: 8 percent
  • Top Center: 4 percent
  • Top Right: 5 percent
As you can see, shooting high means you have a pretty low percentage of actually scoring.
  • Middle Left: 7 percent
  • Middle Center: 8 percent
  • Middle Right: 6 percent
While you have a better chance of scoring if you shoot to the middle than up high, the odds still aren't much in your favor.
  • Bottom Left: 22 percent
  • Bottom Center: 21 percent
  • Bottom Right: 19 percent
Look at these stats: 62 percent of all goals were scored low. This makes sense because it is very difficult for goalkeepers, especially tall ones, to get down to the ground. It's much easier and more natural for them to jump high.

Also, looking at the statistics, 67 percent of goals were scored in the corners versus 33 percent down the middle. If you combine the two statistics and shoot low into the corner, you should have a much greater success rate in scoring goals.

As with any soccer technique, you need to practice if you want to improve your shooting skills. Fortunately, the techniques used for shooting are similar to those used for passing. So you can build up two vital soccer techniques at the same time.

But most importantly: "If you see the space, shoot!"

This one piece of advice is important enough to reiterate: You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take. If you see an opportunity to shoot, take it! The only way these tips can help you is if you implement them, both in practice and in games.

Now lets discuss various types of shoots made in the field and you should also do the same by practicing them more and more.

1. Instep Drive or the Knuckle Shot

The instep drive is a very useful shooting technique when you want to strike the ball with power from long range. However, this type of shot is very hard to control which means that you should not be surprised if the ball ends up 20-30 yards behind the goal.

2. Swerve Shot

A goalkeeper's worst nightmare is known as the swerve shot. This type of shot will swerve once you fire it and to save it requires a lot of effort. However, learning learn how to perform a swerving shot is really difficult and not many players in the world are able to perform it in high tempo. However, you should still practice on it and try it out in real games because failure is the key to success.

3. Full Volley 

A full volley can create a powerful shoot which can be impossible to save (if you get it on the goal of course). The most difficult thing with a full volley is to get your shot on the goal). You really need to hit the ball perfectly and in right moment. If you fail to do so, the ball will often end 20 yards behind the goal. This type of shot is ideal when you have several opponents running towards you while the ball is falling from the sky. A common situation is when the ball is cleared away from a corner kick and you are standing about 5-10 yards from the penalty box line.

4. Half Volley 

A half volley is pretty similar to the full volley except that you will first get control on the ball and then fire the shot. This is also why a half volley is a better alternative for long range shoots because you will be able to receive, aim and fire the shot while the opponents are unprepared. However, keep in mind that beating the keeper with a 30 yard shoot really requires a lot of skill. But, I've seen people score goals from 70 yard with the half volley so it is not impossible. Like with any other soccer shot you should not overdo it. Instead, try it twice but not more than three times per game.

5. Side Volley

A side volley is great when you have the ball bouncing at your side. A side volley requires good balance and great precise timing which means that you need to play it properly before striking the ball. The most difficult thing with a side volley is to get the ball on the goal. It may look easy but often you will either totally miss the ball or send it 30 yards behind your opponent's goal.

6. Flying Volley

The flying volley is not something you will see every day. This is a type of shoot that requires great acrobatic abilities and timing. The most difficult thing with a flying volley is that you need to jump in the right moment. It is also crucial to know how to land because if the ground is hard it will hurt. There is also a risk that you could hit your opponents head instead of the ball. So, be cautious and make sure to plan your jumps.

7. Toe Shoot

While coaches typically try to wean youth players off toe kicks, they have a place are another way of moving the ball deceptively. If you want to have the ball travel a short distance for a shot or pass, flick the center of the ball with the tip of your toes, using a quick motion.

8. Back Heel

The back heel kick wins style points for its flair and can be as effective as any other pass, because the defender screened by your body cannot see it well. In fact, given its unexpectedness, a well-placed back heel kick to a skilled forward sets up a fair number of goals. Step over the ball, and poke it to a teammate using your heel.
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Thursday, 25 October 2012

Shooting in Soccer

With no opportunity to use your hands as a field player in soccer, kicking provides your means of advancing the ball for a dribble, pass or shot. The more types of kicks you master, the more weapons you have during a game. Shooting is a skill where a person hits the ball at the goal to score a goal. Soccer shooting is an essential part of soccer as you cannot win the game if you cannot score goals.

Positions of Soccer Shooting

Static Positions
Static position soccer shooting drills refer to the player's position, not the ball (although in the case of free kicks, both the ball and the player are static). Free kicks are very helpful for your players in training their shot accuracy and usually they are used for just that, instead of being a means to get your shot power trained. You could try having all your players execute free kicks, or just select a handful that you noticed are better at this role and form them as specialists in free kicks.

The other way you can practice soccer shooting drills in a static position is by having one player in the center, receiving passes from the sides and shooting, without moving towards the ball. This simulates a match scenario that occurs quite often, with a striker or a central midfielder having to shoot the ball with a single touch from a static position, because he has no space to move around, or no time to do so.

Dynamic Positions
There's a wider array of soccer drills for shooting that can be practiced from dynamic positions, than from static ones. One of the most popular is the run-and-shoot: have your players positioned in a line at the center of the pitch and send a keeper in the goal. Now, have each player sprint with the ball at his feet up to a certain point that you decide (place a cone as a visual marker), then cannon a shot to goal from there. If you want to practice long range shots, you'll obviously have them shooting for far away, whereas if you want more finishing accuracy, you will have your players shoot from the edge of the box, or even inside it.

A slight variation of the run and shoot soccer drill is the wall-and-shoot. Basically, you'll have the same setup, with the players at half court and a goalkeeper guarding the net of one of the goals, but you will also have a player somewhere near the penalty area, who will act as a wall passer for your incoming players. So a player will sprint with the ball, when he is close to the wall passer he initiates a one-two and shoots the ball in full-on sprint, as soon as he receives it back.

After a while, the above mentioned soccer drills for shooting tend to get repetitive, so you might want to dig up some more, or simply create variations of these. You can work around the dynamic position ones and create new drills of your own.
Valuable Soccer Shooting Tips

1. Bigger Leg Muscles

Building bigger leg muscles will make it easier to shoot harder. However, you will also get more resistant against serious muscle injuries. It is therefore vital for you to combine your leg training with ball training. One way is to lift weights one day and practice on shooting next day. By practicing like this you will be able to increase your muscle mass while you will maintain your flexibility and adaptability on the soccer field.

2. Shooting with accuracy

Shooting doesn't only mean kicking the ball with great force. What is more vital is to kick the ball with accuracy. If you can't kick the ball with accuracy then how do you then expect to get it on the goal?
You may have luck and get one of this great hard shoots but you will score many more goals by having a solid accuracy.

3. Find a goalkeeper to practice with

It is great for your overall soccer skills to find a goalkeeper to practice with. You will also have much more fun comparing to practicing by yourself and an empty goal. A goalie will keep you more focused and you will also get a chance to practice on real game situations.

4. Different methods for shooting
You should not only focus on improving one type of shoot. While practicing on your shooting skills you should try to use your instep, outside, and inside of foot. You can't just limit yourself to one shooting method as different situations require different types of shoot. For ex; it is better to shoot with the inside of your foot from 8-12 yards range. However, 20 + yards ranges are perfect for instep shoots.

Other things to adopt

Don't think about it, just do it!
If there is an opportunity to shoot, go for it. To win a game of soccer, you must score goals. If you don't take shots on goal, you have no chance of scoring and winning.

Too many times, you will see a player pass up a good opportunity on goal by passing the ball. Goal poachers, however, have a different approach. As soon as they receive the ball, their first thoughts are to shoot, even at the tightest of angles. Only when there is a very low percentage of success that they might consider looking for another option instead of soccer shooting. Some people might consider this greedy for goal, but in the long run, they will most likely score more goals then someone who doesn't shoot at all.

Analyze your game

You should try to analyze your performance after every soccer game. You may for ex use a block and take notice on how many goals you have scored, the amount of shoots that have hit the goal, how many times you have managed to dribble your defender and so on. By analyze your own performance you will be able to spot mistakes and correct them in the next game.

Satisfied? Yes or No
You should never feel satisfied with your shooting skills. Keep in mind that there are always things you can improve and you sho
uld always try to improve these no matter how good you are.
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Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Cross Training for Soccer

In soccer, cross training is defined as every other sports training except the one in which a soccer player is specialize in. The function of cross training is to keep the athlete conditioned during the off season and during the season, to provide variation in the training regime.

Why Cross training
Injuries are inevitable in the life of the endurance athlete. When they happen they are painful, debilitating, and frustrating. The most frustrating part of being injured is knowing that your hard-earned fitness is deteriorating while you take time off from training to heal. In fact, this frustration can be so great that soccer players are often unwilling to take time off or tempted into resuming training too soon. Consequently, injuries become worse or last longer than they should.

One way to prevent this sort of self-sabotage is to choose a favorite go-to cross-training activity that you can switch to whenever an injury makes normal

training impossible or unwise. Having such a fallback option greatly reduces the temptation to train normally when you should not because it enables you
to preserve fitness even when you are hurt. The best alternatives to your primary sport discipline are those that are most similar to it.

Whichever cross-training activity you choose to pursue while recovering from an injury in your primary sport discipline, try to replicate your main sport workouts as closely as possible in terms of frequency, intensity, and duration. This will serve to minimize fitness losses during the period of convalescence.

For Cardiovascular

For general fitness and cardiovascular health, the recommendations have been
that 30–40 min, 3–5 times per week at 60% V.O2 max (or 70% HR max) of exercise is prescribed. These guidelines have been revised for the general population to incorporate segmented activities at low intensity during the day which altogether amount to a cumulative health benefit. The recreational player would need a sustained work-out as preparation, and extend training sessions with games.

Some of the common and well fitted cross training exercises which any athlete can chose in his/her rehabilitation period or in off season are

1. Cycling and Swimming
Cycling and swimming are useful activities for soccer players at certain stages
of rehabilitation. Their main benefits are in preventing muscle atrophy through
disuse and in activating the oxygen transport system. Their benefits for elite
players at peak fitness are limited since both histochemical changes in muscles and effects on V.O2 max tend to be specific to the activity in already well-trained individuals.

Soccer players need to develop aerobic capacity and muscle strength at the
same time. Gains in strength and power output can be acquired at the same time as endurance is improved, provided neither is neglected. Increases in muscle strength tend to be greater when strength training is conducted on its own than when it is combined with endurance training. In contrast endurance training does not seem to be affected by conducting a resistance training programme in combination with it.

2. Steep Uphill Treadmill Walking

Research has shown that the human brain uses exactly the same motor pattern to run or walk briskly on steep uphill gradients. In other words, when you crank the treadmill incline up to 12-15 percent, running becomes walking and walking becomes running. Therefore, walking on a steep incline is a highly specific way to maintain running fitness when you're injured. But impact forces are reduced drastically compared to running, so steep uphill walking is possible with most common running injuries. Many runners don't think of walking as a good alternative to running when injured because they assume they cannot match their normal intensity.

3. Pool Running

Pool running, or aqua-jogging, comes in a close second to cycling. With no impact forces, your chance of injury is very low. Because you’re in the water and the nature of pool running, you will have to work extra hard to ensure your heart rate is at a high enough level. That’s why it’s OK to pool run at a “tempo” effort for the majority of your exercise session. You can also do short intervals at a high effort almost every day. The water will keep your heart rate lower and your legs aren't being damaged by impact forces, so you can get an amazing workout day after day! Unless you’re a seasoned veteran with pool running, use an Aqua-jogger (pool running flotation belt) to help keep your form in check. Keep your back tall, and do a running/cycling motion with your legs. The trick to successful pool running is to keep a high cadence (rotations per minute of your legs). Try not to overextend your legs or you may irritate your lower hamstrings.

4. Yoga

Yoga provides the a perfect cross training routine for athletes who play sports that use repetitive movement patterns over and over. Yoga allows you to unwind, and unfold tight, overused muscles while it provides a gentle all-body workout. Yoga improves flexibility, balance, breathing and overall strength.

5. Kayaking

Give your legs a break while you build upper body and core strength with kayaking. The rhythmic motion of paddling a kayak through lakes and open water is a great cardiovascular workout that can be as vigorous or soothing as you want to make it. 

6. Crossfit

The Crossfit Workout is an extremely popular basic training type of workout routine that is popping up all over the world. CrossFit builds strength, power and endurance in a fun, fast workout alternative. Use is in the off-season, or as part of your standard routine and you will be a much stronger athlete.

7. Hiking

Hiking is a great cross training activity that add a little variety to your exercise routine. Getting outdoors for a long day of endurance exercise helps build endurance, agility and balance as you navigate rocks, roots and uneven surfaces. Be prepared for the extreme weather conditions, and be sure to take a few hiking safety precautions to ensure a great day in the wilderness.

8. Core Strength Training

The core muscles (muscles supporting the trunk and torso) are the most critical muscles for all athletic movement. These muscles stabilize the spine from the pelvis to the head and allow athletes to transfer power to the arms and legs. All powerful movements in the extremities originate from the center of the body so building core strength is essential for coordinated and strong athletic movements. All athletes should do basic core strengthen.

5 Tips for Cross Training
Here are some basic rules of thumb for cross-training to make sure its effective and relatively risk-free.

1. Training intensity should be roughly 80% of your max effort. This will make sure you’re not over-training and keeps you safe from injury.

2. Training should be shorter duration than a normal soccer practice or game. So you can cross-train for 30 – 60 minutes depending on the workout and your current training schedule.

3. Training frequency should be roughly 3-5 times per week. So if you’re already running or practicing soccer 3 times per week, only add 2-3 days of cross training.

4. Focus on activities that are non-impact. You will get enough impact training from running at least 3 days a week, so you should focus on non-impact training like cycling or strength circuit training. This will allow you to keep your intensity higher on the days you do run or play soccer.

5. Cross-training should still be functional. All training should still be based around high-intensity intervals. This will train your muscle endurance, but also significantly improve your explosiveness and quickness.

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Monday, 22 October 2012

Water Exercises to Improve Soccer

Running is one of the most popular cardiovascular activities and in soccer,it meant everything. But has a high number of injuries due to stress on the joints, many runners who experience injuries from running find it hard to take time off to heal, and find that water exercises as great alternatives. 
For staying in cardiovascular activities, even during players are injured, exercises in water helps to keep their stamina and also helps to heal their muscle injuries. Soccer demands more and more fitness, that's why water exercises are a great to fulfill the demands of strength and endurance required in soccer.

Some of the common exercises use to adapted during rest or rehabilitation period of player from injuries are.

1. Water Walking
It may seem simple, but just walking through water can be an effective resistance and toning exercise, since your muscles have to work harder to move through the water than on land. Use a part of the pool where the water is about waist high, and use long, exaggerated movements to walk to the other side of the pool. The water will likely cause you to want to walk on your tiptoes, but focus on keeping your feet flat to the ground as you walk. Move your hands front to back as you walk. Walk four widths of the pool and take a break.

Advanced Water Walking
For greater workout intensity, move your water walking to the deep end of the pool. Place a water noodle between your legs for flotation, and if you aren't comfortable swimming in the deep end, wear a float vest or float belt too. Cup your hands, or wear hand webs, to increase resistance as you swing your arms through the water. For the most intense workout, jog at a rhythmic pace.

2. Treading Water

It will help keep you afloat, but treading water can also give you a cardio and resistance workout. Find a deep section of the pool where your feet cannot touch the bottom, and let your body go under the water until just your head and neck are above the water level. Make small circles with your hands to help keep your head above water. Point one leg straight down toward the floor of the pool with the toes pointed downward as well. Bring the other leg up so it is perpendicular to the floor of the pool and hold for five seconds. Quickly switch legs and hold for another five seconds. Repeat these actions for 30 seconds.

3. Otter Roll

Using a standard size beach or exercise ball, hold it tightly in your arms, and float on your back in the water with your legs crossed over one another. Take a deep breath and tighten your abs. Use them to roll your body over so you are face down in the water, then use your abs again to roll over onto your back again. Exhale and take another deep breath and repeat this motion for 30 seconds, focusing on using your abs, not your arms or legs, to turn your body over in the water.

4. Aqua Jogging
It allows you to gain a cardiovascular benefit and stimulate your metabolism without doing a weight-bearing exercise. That means you minimize strain on ligaments and joints and have a low risk for injury as you burn calories. Because of its low impact, it's also good way to regain strength after an injury. If you are a trained athlete, aqua running can help you build strength and stamina because water provides resistance as you run. You can utilize many water jogging techniques to accomplish your goals.

Basic Aqua Jogging
When you perform basic aqua jogging, use the same running movements that you would on dry land. If you are new to the exercise, start out with a walking pace before you try to jog. Walking pace entails about 25 to 30 paces per minute. Make sure you keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle.

5. Striding
Use striding for a more vigorous workout. Widen your strides as much as possible as you jog. This requires much more effort than walking, so is not suitable for long periods of stamina training. However, you can do intervals of walking and striding to ramp up conditioning and fat burn.

Focus on speed rather than long strides if you are looking to gain speed and strength. Athletes are advised to try for 76 to 80 cycles per minute, meaning you take that many steps per minute with each leg. Overall you'll be taking or 152 to 160 steps. This will help you gain stamina for land running as well. On land, an athlete's recommended cadence is 88 to 90 cycles per minute.

6. High Knees

Knee-lifting exercises are an advanced exercise that will help you gain strength. Drive your leading knee up as high as you can when you step. The movement feels similar to climbing a stair. This is followed with a noticeable stretch of your legs to the rear. You'll feel water resistance on the sole of your foot as well as on your knee. Using a slight forward lean is recommended with this exercise.

7. Water Squats

Squats on dry land work your quadriceps, hamstring and buttock muscles and water squats do the same, but without as much stress on your body. Stand in shallow water with your hands by your sides. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Tighten your abdominal muscles and lower yourself into a squatting position. You will feel as though you are preparing to sit down. Once you have lowered yourself into position, carefully stand back up, keeping your back straight.

8. Flutter Kick

The flutter kick works your abdominal, arm and leg muscles. Begin by facing the pool wall in chest-deep water. Hold onto the edge of the pool deck with both hands and lift your legs until your body is parallel to the pool floor. Push your body away from the side so that your arms are fully extended, but your elbows are not locked. Tighten your core muscles and kick your legs. Keep your legs straight and kick quickly with intensity. Kick 50 times, rest and repeat.

Some other common exercises which can also be done in water are.

A. Twist with Knee
Stand in chest deep water, and put the noodle behind your back, draping your arms along the noodle. Lift your right knee towards your left shoulder, contracting your abdominal muscles as you lift. Lower you right leg and repeat with your left leg. Do 20 twists. Perform a variation on this exercise by lifting your legs straight out while twisting your waist.

B. Leg Extensions
To do leg extensions in the pool, toning your quads, tie a water noodle around your left foot. Lean forward and hold on to the edge of the pool. Shift both legs back, left knee bent at a 90-degree angle, until your left foot nearly breaks the surface of the water. Straighten your left knee against the noodle's resistance, then bend your left knee to 90 degrees again. Repeat, completing a full set on your left leg before switching the noodle to your right foot.
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Sunday, 21 October 2012

Water Training for Soccer

Some form of rest is often the treatment recommendation for an injured athlete. The rest may be relative rest, in which the athlete reduces the intensity of training or activity, or it may be absolute rest, during which the athlete performs no activity. In either case, rest for an athlete can be problematic. The research of Coyle et al. (1986 and 1984) showed that a significant decline in cardiovascular fitness can result from as little as 3 week of inactivity. A 14 to 16% decline in maximal oxygen consumption has been documented after 6 week of rest (Coyle et al., 1986 and 1984). Given that 3 to 6 week is not an inordinately long period and certainly within the realm of the time needed for recovery from a musculo-skeletal injury, the loss of cardiovascular fitness needs to be considered. An athlete may rehabilitate an acute injury only to find that he or she returns to the sport with a significant loss of conditioning. Fortunately, the aquatic environment can help to mitigate some, if not all, of the potential fitness loss.

Exercise in water
Hydrotherapy forms an important element in restoring normal function in injured skeletal muscle. The water provides resistance to the motion of the limb involved without imposing a weight-bearing load upon it. The body is buoyed up in water and so exercise in this medium has little risk of incurring injury.

   Trainers have exploited the buoyant properties of water for athletic conditioning purposes. Running in the shallow end of the swimming pool can be of value for increasing muscle strength. The individual may also be connected to a harness linked to the coach at poolside. In this tethered position he/she attempts to run away from the coach and goes through a brief period of running on the spot. The exercise is geared towards improving the ability to accelerate over a short distance.
   Swimming is best considered purely as a recreational activity for soccer players. Nevertheless exercise in water can have value particularly on recovery days. The whole team can be engaged and a modification of water polo games introduced for enjoyment. One limitation is that non-swimmers cannot be fully involved although they can participate in water-based exercise by wearing buoyancy aids. Deep-water running
Deep-water running can introduce novelty into the training programme of
players. It is performed in a deep hydrotherapy pool or in the deep end of a
swimming pool. The individual tries to simulate the normal running action used in land whilst wearing a buoyancy vest to assist flotation. Due to bio-mechanical differences between running in water and on land, a definite attempt must be made to keep the hips pushed forward in order to maintain good posture.This training modality is used as a means of preventing injury, in promoting recovery from strenuous exercise and as a form of supplementary training for cardiovascular fitness.

  As the feet do not touch the floor of the pool, impact is avoided and the risk
of injury to the lower limbs eliminated. The added buoyancy while performing
deep-water running has the potential to decrease the compressive forces on the spine that are evident during running on land. Dowzer et al. (1998) reported that, while participants exercised at 80% of mode-specific V.O2 peak, spinal shrinkage was less during deep-water running than treadmill running as a result of reduced axial loading on the vertebral column. Running in deep water will enable individuals to reduce impact loading while maintaining training intensity.

   Deep-water running can also accelerate the recovery process after matches or after strenuous training. In particular the recovery of muscle strength after
stretch-shortening exercise designed to induce muscle soreness was accelerated compared to treadmill running (Reilly et al., 2003a). It was concluded that deep-water running is effective in temporarily relieving soreness while enhancing the process of recovery. The temporary relief of muscle soreness allows training to be continued at a time that training on land would be uncomfortable. The physiological responses to exercise in water and in air differ largely due to the hydro-static effect of water on the body in deep-water running. There are changes in blood compartments, cardiovascular responses, pulmonary and renal function that have been reviewed by Reilly et al. (2003b). Briefly, the heart rate is reduced by reflex action immediately on immersion. Both stroke volume and cardiac output increase during water immersion: an increase in blood volume largely offsets the cardiac decelerating reflex at rest. At sub-maximal exercise intensities, blood lactate responses to exercise during deep-water running are elevated in comparison to treadmill running at a given oxygen uptake (V.O2). While V.O2, minute ventilation and heart rate are decreased under maximal exercise conditions in the water, deep-water running can nevertheless be justified as providing an adequate stimulus for cardiovascular training.

Responses to training programmes have confirmed the efficacy of deep-water running, although positive responses are most evident when measured in a water-based test. Aerobic performance is maintained with deep-water running for up to 6 weeks in trained endurance athletes; sedentary individuals benefit more than athletes in improving maximal oxygen uptake. There is some limited evidence of improvement in anaerobic measures and in upper-body strength in individuals engaging in deep-water running.
   As deep-water running is safe, it is suitable for a range of soccer-playing
populations. It may be used by recreational and veteran players and has a role also in the regimen of professional players.

  • Try to simulate your normal running style.
  • Don't 'paddle'- Keep a loosely closed fist and let your legs move you forward.
  • Try to let the bottoms of your feet to kick the water behind you.
  •  Take short, quick strides. A fast cadence intensifies the workout.
  • Expect a lower stride cadence. Remember water is more resistant than air and your pace will decrease accordingly.
  • Your heart rate will be about 10 percent lower than at the same intensity on land.
It may take some practice to get the hang of water running, but if you concentrate on your form, just as you would while running on land, you should pick it up quickly.

Book: Science of Training Soccer by Thomas Reilly
Topic: Alternative training methods.
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