Soccer is a fast-paced, intense sport that can take a big physical toll on your body. Not only must you train hard to stay in shape, but you must also learn to take care of your body as it recovers. Staying healthy as an athlete can be a challenge because resting can feel like laziness for individuals who are used to strenuous workouts and preparation for games. However, it is essential to make efforts to stay as healthy as possible and let your body recover to perform to the best of your abilities.

  1. Skincare

With the exception of indoor soccer, a lot of time is spent outside on the field for practices and games. This exposure to sunlight can be harsh on the skin, especially in areas with torrid summers. The application of sweatproof and waterproof sunscreen helps to protect the skin from sunburn and damage. Regular use of a medicated lip balm can provide relief for dry, chapped lips that may be caused by sun exposure or dehydration. Choosing light clothing that contains ultraviolet protection factors and wearing hats when training outdoors can also help protect your skin from damaging sun rays.

  1. Hydration

Hydration status is extremely important for all athletes. The more you sweat, the more you should be drinking to replenish your body. Consuming enough water daily has numerous benefits on your body and performance, so it is essential to get into the habit of drinking plenty of water each day. Adequate hydration also helps keep you cool during workouts and in hot weather by aiding in body temperature regulation. Dehydration can lead to cramps and headaches, among other adverse symptoms, which will negatively impact your performance on the soccer field. Serious athletes know the importance of staying hydrated and have formed healthy habits to ensure they are consuming enough water throughout the day, not just on game days but every day.

  1. Train Smarter

It’s a no-brainer that soccer players put in a lot of miles. Running is an unavoidable part of the game, so it makes sense that soccer players run a lot to stay in shape and healthy. Aside from cardiovascular exercise, weights, core work and other focused workouts are part of a well-rounded training regimen to promote strength, balance, endurance, agility and speed. There are plenty of ways to train to optimize performance.

It is just as important to train smartly as it is to train hard. Understand the limits of your body, the importance of stretching and the need for recovery days. Soccer players stay healthy by giving their bodies time to recover and heal, knowing that these recovery days are still helping push them towards their physical goals. Recovery days do not mean staying in bed or binging on junk food. Most athletes choose a light physical activity or an exercise they enjoy but do not typically get to spend a lot of time doing them during the season. Biking, hiking or walks are all examples. These days are beneficial for the athlete’s mental health, too.

  1. Nutrition

Serious athletes make nutrition a staple of their training mentality, realizing that the foods they choose to consume can significantly impact their energy levels, muscle building, and performance. Lean proteins, fruits and vegetables are excellent nutritious choices for a well-balanced diet. Vitamins and supplements can be added to fill any nutritional gaps, too.

  1. Sleep

Setting aside enough time each day to sleep can help keep everyone’s body healthy. Our bodies repair and heal while we sleep, making this time a crucial step in staying healthy. Physical performance and mental health are both impacted greatly by getting adequate amounts of quality sleep.

In order to stay on the field when it is game time, you must take care of your body off the field. This includes eating nutrient-dense foods, drinking tons of water, stretching and recovering, all while training smarter. The work you put into taking care of your body is just as important as the drills you perform on the field.