Soccer is a fun and intensive sport; it requires a strong cardiovascular system to run across the field and strength to kick or throw the ball across it as well. Soccer practices (and games) can be intense and tiring, but there are many ways to recover from them so you are ready to play at your best in your next practice or game quickly.
Hydrate your body
Engaging in intensive exercise for an hour or more can take a serious toll on your body. The best thing to do is to make sure you drink plenty of water before, during, and especially after your soccer practice. You can bring a large (24oz to 32oz) reusable water bottle with you and store it in a canvas tote bag so it is easy to access after practice. If you have a hard time drinking just water, or if you want to consume some extra nutrients, there are many drink powders and tablets you can also store in your bag. These may include electrolytes, which sometimes become diminished after working out. Having low electrolytes means your body may have difficulty maintaining its acid balance, regulating fluids, and contracting muscles. Hydrating is important in order to combat this!
Fuel your muscles
In addition to hydration, your body will recover well after soccer practice if you consume some food. If you have difficulty consuming solid food after vigorous exercise, you can also opt for higher-calorie drinks like protein shakes or chocolate milk. Once you feel like you can eat, aim to have a meal that has a balance of healthy carbohydrates (like rice or potatoes), protein (like chicken or tofu), and fat (like avocado, nuts, or oils). Having a nutritious meal can help your body restore and recover.
Take a shower
When you are playing a physical team sport like soccer, it is nearly inevitable to avoid contact with other players on the field. Being in contact with other players and equipment, like drill cones, practice pinnies, or the soccer ball, means germs can be passed back and forth to others easily. These germs can be minor, or they can turn into serious colds or illnesses, which can definitely hamper recovery. After soccer practice, make sure you wash your hands as soon as possible. You should also take a shower to help wash away any germs you may have inevitably gotten from another teammate or piece of equipment.
Care for equipment
Playing soccer requires the use of a lot of equipment. Some of it may be kept by the team, so you cannot control how it is taken care of when practice is over. There are some things you probably do take home and can care for on a regular basis, like cleats and shin guards. When you sweat during practice, bacteria have a chance to grow on some of your equipment. If you remove your shin guards and keep them stored away in a bag until they are used again, they might not have a chance to properly dry, which can allow bacteria and germs to grow wild. This can also increase your chances of getting sick and not being able to recover well. Letting your equipment dry out between practices is important.
Relax and sleep
The best way to recover from almost anything is to get a good night’s sleep or to take a nap in the middle of the day. Sleep is the best way for your body to rejuvenate, to gain energy, and to repair tired muscles. If you have soccer practice early in the day and have an opportunity to take a short (30 minute) nap in the middle of the day, that can help you recover well. If you cannot do that, or your practice is in the afternoon or evening, try to go to bed at a time that will allow you to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep.