First played in England during the 19th century, the game of soccer spans more than 200 countries and includes over 250 million participants. If you love the sport, too, you probably want to do your best. This means eating properly, plenty of practice, and understanding how and when to focus on your goals.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Optimal nutrition for a soccer player consists of carbohydrates, fat, and protein spread over several meals and snacks throughout the day. Additional meals or snacks are often necessary to maintain energy on game days.
- Carbohydrates — Carbs should make up around 65% of a soccer player’s diet, ideally in the form of fresh fruits and whole grains. Brown rice, potatoes, and whole-grain bread and pasta are good choices.
- Fat — Avoid foods that are high in saturated fats, such as full-fat milk, cheese, and most sweets. Instead, opt for good fats like nuts, oily fish, avocados, or olive oil.
- Protein — Look for lean proteins. Poultry, fish, nuts, and lean cuts of meat are excellent options.
Those who live busy lives or otherwise have trouble maintaining proper nutrition often turn to supplements like Thrive. “What is Thrive?” you may find yourself asking. Simply put, it’s a lifestyle enhancer. Le-Vel’s Thrive contains all-natural, plant-based, gluten-free ingredients that help soccer players to enhance performance, maintain joint and lean muscle support, and manage weight. It is available in capsule form and as a drink supplement.
Practice Soccer Drills Outside of Practice
Most soccer players practice on their own in addition to with their teams. Several single-person drills are easy to do in your own backyard and can help you improve how you move with the ball and even how well you score goals.
Perhaps most popular are juggling exercises. Juggling the ball with and without spins, including side-spins, topspins, and backspins, teaches you how to better control the ball when it counts. More control means it’s easier to make difficult passes in-game, such as bending it around players on the opposing team.
Other exercises are important as well. Receiving drills teach you to control the ball when it comes at you from a high angle, and dribbling drills teach you how to maintain control of the ball without needing to stare at it. Even a drill as simple as kicking the ball against a wall can help you learn to pass, receive, and maintain control more efficiently.
Get Your Head in the Game
Good mental health is as important for the game as having a healthy body. The mentality of soccer goes beyond simply understanding the fundamentals. The key is to know how to manage game-related stress and anxiety. Maintaining your mental health on game day is vital for good performance. Spend time calming your nerves before kickoff by relaxing. Eat a healthy snack, drink some water, and practice some deep breathing exercises. Spend a bit of time focusing on your goals for the match, then calm yourself with your favorite music or something else that will keep you motivated for the game.
Avoid Training Too Long or Too Hard
No matter how much you love to play soccer, it’s important to take time away from it. Spending every waking moment practicing or thinking about your performance can quickly leave you feeling physically and mentally drained. Take at least one full day off a week to catch up on sleep, spend time with friends or family, or focus on another hobby that you love. Remember, even professional players don’t train 24/7. If you’re feeling tired on game day, you’re probably overdoing it. Cut back on your training or mix up your schedule for a fresh perspective.
Above all else, remember that a game is supposed to be fun. By eating a healthy diet, knowing when to practice and when to rest, and ensuring your mental health is as much a priority as your physical health, you are more likely to become the best soccer player you can be.