Youth: How Workload Management Keeps Soccer Players Healthy
Mar 15, 2021
Pro teams like Real Madrid show what can happen when players are stretched thin by overwork and poor workload management. In this case, Real Madrid will be without their five first-choice defenders due to the current injury crisis. In this post, we’ll look at why coaches and parents should be aware of overwork and the importance of recovery time in training for the health of their players.
The Dilemma of Real Madrid (And Other Injury Prone Teams)
It usually looks something like this. Key starting players are overworked in matches and training sessions, they get injured, and instead of taking time off they need to heal, the players feel pressure to “recover quickly” and get back in the game. They play and are quickly injured again because they hadn’t fully recovered from their injury the first time.
Coaches and players have the choice of not playing their best players and risk losing games or playing their players and risking further injury. Now, other players who are playing more game time and pushing themselves to play more get injured. Because the first-tier players are already missing, these injured players feel more pressure to “recover quickly” and get back on the field, leading to more injuries and missed games. It is a cycle that repeats itself - players pushing themselves and each other without proper workload management.
Heavy Workload and Overexertion
Any pro athlete expects a rigorous schedule, but the cycle of training, practice, and the regular season demands, along with additional tournaments, can be brutal. This is especially true for younger players who are still gaining muscle strength and stamina.
Some researchers blame these rigorous schedules and too many game minutes played for the increase in player injuries. If players don’t have adequate time to recover from matches or even intense training sessions, it can put their bodies at risk for injuries.
Effects of Heavy Workload in Soccer
Here are some of the effects of a heavy workload on soccer players.
Muscle and Joint Injuries - young athletes may have the cardio strength to keep pushing themselves, but their bones and muscles are still growing. There is a limit to how far they can work, and without proper rest and recovery, muscle and joint injuries can develop. The American Academy of Pediatrics found that up to 50 percent of all injuries seen in pediatric sports medicine are related to overuse.
Perpetual Injuries - not only are young athletes at risk for injuries from overwork, but without proper rest and recovery, old injuries can act up and become more severe or lead to long-term issues.
Burnout/Difficulty Recovering from Injuries
If a young athlete is too tired or burnt out from overwork, their bodies may not be able to recover or bounce back from injuries as quickly as they might if they were well-rested. Rest helps build strength and endurance and proper recovery time is essential for young athletes.
How to Restore the Balance
How can young soccer players continue to train and improve their fitness and restore the balance of rest and recovery, so they don’t get overworked? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Focus on Conditioning, Nutrition and Recovery Protocol - rather than pushing to the limits, athletes should focus on proper nutrition that supports their health, conditioning that builds endurance and muscles but doesn’t overwork them and build in a recovery period after matches or intense training sessions.
Adequate Rest Period - athletes should give their bodies good rest periods between intense periods of training and take advantage of breaks to give their bodies a chance to rest.
Breaks/Substitutions for Players - during a match, coaches should be careful not to overplay players and make regular substitutions to avoid overwork.
Wearing Effective Soccer Protective Gear - soccer protective gear such as BodyShield Leg Guards can also help reduce the risk of injuries for young players during matches or training.
If you are looking for more protection to support your young soccer player, check out our line of youth training products that help reduce the risk of injuries and keep your players healthy.