During the summer months some teams will break, and others will continue to train and play in events. Many players will also go to camps of different types. Here are some things to keep in mind to ensure your players have a safe and happy summer on the field:
· Make sure players are hydrating the night before competition by sipping water or a sports drink through the early evening. Drinks need to be absorbed gradually, and anything “chugged down” will be passed through without being absorbed for use later. Similarly, water/fluid taken the morning of competition will not be useful until after competition time has passed. Players should still be drinking during competition, though!
· Players should be urinating regularly, and their urine should be clear (with the possible exception of just after waking when it is more concentrated).
· Make sure goals are anchored. The hot weather can bring strong storms and wind. Conditions can change surprisingly quickly, and unanchored goals can hurt or even kill players if they fall on them.
· If you can see lightning, clear the field. If you can see it, you can be hit. Wait for 30 minutes after the last visible strike before returning to play.
· If it is extremely hot and humid, consider taking the day off. Extreme conditions can be dangerous to the kids, and will almost certainly limit what you can get out of them.
· If you are playing in a tournament, have your players stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day. See a movie as a team between games to keep them in a cool environment.
· Have players who are not lactose intolerant drink 1% fat chocolate milk within 30 minutes of the end of games. It turns out that 1% chocolate milk is one of the best recovery drinks available-and it’s cheap.
· Have players stretch major muscle groups AFTER games, and have them lie on their backs with their legs up for about 5 minutes to help recirculate their blood. Doing so will keep their legs fresh.
· In the summer months, we often experience a dry spell where the ground will become as hard as concrete. Soccer cleats have relatively little built in support, and constant play/training in them can result in overuse injuries like shin splints. Ignoring these injuries can lead to further problems. When players are experiencing shin or joint pain, they should be evaluated by a doctor and rest until they can resume play without pain.
· Even the most committed players need time off to recharge. Taking a week at the beginning, middle, and end of summer can be very helpful in keeping the competitive fires stoked when the fall rolls back around. Whatever loss of fitness they experience is usually made up for by the return of a strong hunger to play and train. Players (and parents of players) need time to rest and recharge now and then.