These Soccer Science Tactics Will Up Your Game
Premiership teams have upped their game courtesy of the men in the white coats. So MH consulted with the experts to give you and your team the advantage you’ve been waiting for – all thanks to some soccer science.
For some it’s just a game, for others it’s a religion. But for the world’s top players and coaches, soccer is a science. Game analytics and precision nutrition have become the norm at top clubs across the country and data-crunching training methods are producing new and exciting advances in players’ fitness and performance. So, just in time for the start of the new season, we’ve assembled an elite team of touchline professors whose insight will revolutionise your game, whatever level you play at.
Try out each of these drills once a week to give your game a cutting edge – and goalkeeper’s sleepless nights.
Boost your mental game with sports psychologist Bradley Busch.
Language: Criticising yourself with harsh words releases the stress hormone cortisol, fogging decisions. So think of positive solutions instead.
Emotional control: Anger can overwhelm your brain, but saying “I’m angry” reduces intensity. Label your emotion and move on.
Attention: Don’t overload yourself. Focus on three things you can control, such as energy, movement and timing. Not the ref’s bad call.
Physiology: Your body language affects your mood – if your head tilts forward, your brain powers down. So, don’t let your eyeline drop any lower than the corner flag.
The Right Fuel
The nutritional rule of three by Nick Broad, head of sports science at Chelsea FC.
How it works: “Our players have three equal portions of carbs (for energy), protein (for muscle repair), and fruit and veg, with healthy fats (for immunity and brain function), at every meal,” says Broad. Here’s an example of a day’s menu:
Breakfast: mackerel with wholegrain toast, then strawberries and blueberries.
Lunch: wholegrain pasta, sea bass and three different coloured vegetables with olive oil.
Dinner: chicken wraps with peppers, avocado and red onion.
How to see the big picture, by vision coach Sherylle Calder.
A: “Put last month’s Men’s Health cover on a wall at eye level six metres away and hold this month’s 30 to 40cm from your face,” says Calder. “Focus on a headline on the distant copy.”
B: “Now quickly snap back and refocus on the near copy.” Do five one-minute sessions four to five times a week to improve your ball receiving skills, range of passing angles and shooting. Your pitch awareness will soon rival Mesut Ozil’s.
Avoid The Injury List All Season
Protect your body against untimely injuries using these drills from Tottenham Hotspurs’ Dr Sam Erith.
Ankle sprains…caused by the shock of the new season.
Prevent it: “hopping forward on one leg and then holding for five seconds. Switch legs, then try variations such as hopping backwards.”
Hamstring strains… caused by the cold and muscular fatigue.
Prevent it: “kneeling with your feet secured and leaning forwards as far as you can, using your arms to catch yourself.” Do three sets of 15 reps.
Abductor muscle injuries… caused by cumulative muscle fatigue.
Prevent it: “Lying on your back and balancing a ball between your thighs, then raise your hips and hold for five seconds.”
Build A Pitch Ready Body
“The days of 20-minute jogs are over,” says Erith. Get yourself fit with this drill.
1. Jump off a box, landing on both feet. Jump laterally, landing on one leg. Hold, then sprint. It’ll help you lose your marker faster.
2. “Do eight 15 second sprints with 15 second rests,” says Erith.
3. “Do bench presses, six ball press-ups and nine chest rows,” says West Ham coach Mathew Monte-Colombo. You’ll slash recovery times.
4. Beat fatigue with leg-strength. “Do three sets of six single-leg squats and lunge walks and you’ll be chasing the ball down in extra time,” says Erith.