Soccer players understand better than most the need for physical conditioning. These athletes spend over an hour running up and down a large field to move the ball into their opponent’s territory and ultimately into the goal, making it one of the most demanding sports. From professional club athletes to those who play in pick-up games over the weekend, soccer players need to have the stamina and endurance to keep up with the constant action of a typical game. Swimming and other water-based sports primarily benefit soccer training in two ways. First, swimming is a great way to build up cardiovascular endurance in general. Second, pool environments allow athletes to train and recuperate in a low-impact environment. Here’s a closer look at how swimming can be an important part of a player’s fitness regimen.
Cooling Down and Training Simultaneously
Professional players such as Clint Dempsey of the U.S. Men’s National team use swimming as a way to cool down after games. The water is easier on joints and muscles than jogging and walking. The physical activity of aquatics increases circulation while also providing aerobic strenuousness that helps to develop stamina and conditioning. Pool water also helps cool the body, providing a unique, controlled environment to increase heart rate. Soccer players can swim several times a week, fitting sessions around their game and practice schedules. Think of how refreshing a swim would feel after an epic match. You may ask yourself, “Are there pool builders near me?” and get started on a backyard training pool of your own.
Recuperating Through Water Polo
Playing games in the pool such as water polo is a great way for soccer players to recover on off-days. London-based soccer team, Arsenal incorporates water polo into their recuperation, facilitated by a state-of-the-art training facility that includes pools. In addition to therapeutic whirlpools that help relieve sore and tired muscles, the pools also have adjustable floors that allow doctors and therapists to observe the running motion of players. These experts can identify issues and make recommendations for therapy in an environment that supports recovery with decreased impact.
Running In Place
Deepwater running is a popular activity for supplementing cardiovascular endurance. Even injured athletes can use this low-impact pool exercise to help work on stamina as they recover. The buoyancy of the water helps reduce compression of the spine, while the depth of the pool eliminates the impact of the feet hitting the floor. European organizations such as the AFC Bournemouth Football Club in the UK take advantage of underwater treadmills to reduce injury recovery time while modeling game movement requirements for athletic training. Deepwater running is especially important to defenders who tend to run continuously in most soccer matches.
The Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club of England uses hydrotherapy pools for a number of benefits to their training regimen. In addition to rehabilitating injured players, these pools contain a number of workstations used for building strength. A single pool includes multiple distinct workstations with features such as chain kinetic exercise benches, angled plyometric pads as well as tethering ports for progressive weight-bearing activities to build strength.
Diversifying the Workout
Cross-training helps contribute to an athlete’s overall fitness level, and soccer players are no exception. During the off-season, in particular, playing certain activities such as tennis, biking and swimming help trainees maintain their core strength and endurance. Soccer players in any position can benefit from the improved breathing and oxygen usage that comes with regular swimming. Injured players may not be able to handle the physical impact of other activities, but they can engage in aquatics to exercise while healing.
Soccer is a very physically demanding sport. The best players have leg strength to kick the ball for a long-distance as well as the stamina required to run continuously. Swimming and other water activities supplement a player’s training by developing aerobic conditioning, building strength, cooling down and rehabilitating without the stress of impact. If you’re a soccer player, consider working swimming into your offseason and between-game workouts.