5 Tips To Fire Up When Playing in Cold Weather
January 26, 2008
Last weekend, I was in Portland, Oregon playing in the FC Portland Winter Showcase. The Alaskan in me was excited to see the temperatures drop below freezing and even below zero with wind chill on the last day of the showcase. I know I’m probably one of the only players here who is used to and even thrives on temperatures that cold, so here is my method of dealing with the adverse weather.
Hydration is key in football, and it’s even harder to stay hydrated in cold weather. Aside from drinking during the match, hydrating the day before is key. The desire to drink will be reduced in the cold, but it is still vital. The easiest way to check hydration is to check urine color. The clearer it is, the better hydrated the person is. Strive to be hydrated before stepping on to the pitch.
Layering is the best way to dress in the cold. When temperatures drop below 45 degrees, a good thermal base layer is helpful. Under Armour’s Cold Gear pants and mock turtlenecks are very warm, but not heavy. They are worth every dollar that they cost. Be completely in match kit when stepping out for the warm up in the cold. Spending time changing into boots or putting on shin guards in the cold will only make it seem colder. Be sure to bring plenty of heavy clothes, a hat, and gloves for the sidelines.
An extended warm up beginning with 7-10 minutes of running will get blood flowing and body temperature up. If the team performs static stretching, it is best done in intervals of 2-3 stretches followed by 2-3 minutes of movement. Be sure to be completely warmed up before moving to other goalkeeper specific activities. That being said, it might be beneficial to reduce the warm up time by 5-10 minutes. For instance, I normally take 45 minutes to warm up, but in very cold weather I reduce my warm up to 30 minutes.
Keep moving throughout the match. Field players have the benefit of running in the cold, just as we have the benefit of standing in the heat. Jump up and down, run in place, and constantly reposition to stay warm. Stiffness and shivering are the two killers in the cold. Both make it impossible to be effective in goal.
After the match get out of the cold as quickly as possible. Take a warm shower and hydrate as quickly as possible. Fifteen minutes of static stretching will reduce soreness the next day.
With a little preparation, the cold is bearable. If at all possible, train in the cold to get used to it before playing a match. However, remember that the focus is still on soccer, so spend as little time as possible worrying about the cold.