Playing football in the winter almost guarantees that you’ll be playing in some rather wet, cold and windy conditions. Actually, scrap that – playing football in the UK means that you’ll be playing in these miserable conditions pretty much all year round!
Whether the pitch is wet, frozen, or muddy, the wind howling, and the rain lashing, playing in such wintry conditions presents footballers with an extra set of challenges. Your studs will slip, the cold will deplete your energy, and running in the mud is just exhausting.
In this article, we take a look at some of the things that you can do to ensure you are able to both survive and thrive in the cold wet weather. Yes, even if that’s July…
Don’t Underestimate a Good Warm Up
One of the most embarrassing, and dangerous, things that can happen in the cold weather is when you unexpectedly slip and do the splits, as one leg goes one way and the other takes a trip in the opposite direction.
This will provide endless entertainment for your teammates and the opposition, but may leave you with groin strain that renders you side-lined for the rest of the season.
While you may not be able to prevent these slips if the pitch resembles an ice rink, if you are properly warmed up then you are more likely to survive sudden stretches and slips. We have prepared plenty of material on warming up, which you can read in our guide on how to warm up effectively using the RAMP protocol.
Keep Your Head in the Game
As the wind howls and the rain batters down, you may stand in the middle of the pitch wondering why the game wasn’t called off.
But there’s no time for second guessing when the whistle has been blown. Playing football in wet and slippery conditions is tough for everyone on the pitch, so you need to focus on everything that is happening in front of you and capitalise on everyone elses distraction.
Taking a Focus90 shot just before the match can help keep your head in the game and not back in the warm changing room. Each shot contains caffeine, beta alanine, l-theanine, and tyrosine which will help you concentrate on the match, reduces your perception of fatigue, and allow you to play with more precision.
Hydration Remains Crucial
When it’s wet and cold, you may feel less inclined to drink water and hydrate properly – it’s understandable.
However, your body is deceiving you. In cold weather you are still likely to lose around 800ml of fluid every hour through sweat and respiration. Cold enough to see your breath hanging in the air? There's a lot of water in that, and replacing this fluid is essential.
Don't forget the electrolytes which aid hydration in the body too (and help prevent cramp). Popping some of our Hydrate90 electrolyte tablets into your water bottle will go a long way to keeping you on top of your hydration in the wet weather. Or you could try our new Hydrate90 isotonic sports drink to add 30g of rapid absorption carbohydrates to give you an energy boost!
Wrap Up Warm
Wearing a thickly-insulated goose down jacket while on the pitch may be out of the question, but gearing up with some appropriate base layers and gloves can help you feel warmer and more protected from the elements when playing in the cold. If it helps you, go for it- but don't forget you'll warm up quickly when the game starts, so don't overdo it!
Don’t forget a towel, a change of clothes and a warm coat for after the match, otherwise it will be a very soggy ride home indeed!
Stick it Out Until the End
As the game goes on, and your boots become one with the mud, your eyes may turn to the ref as you count down the remaining minutes.
However, this is the time to really focus and remain energised. The last quarter of the game is when a player with energy and drive can really tear the opposition apart.
Consider taking on some carbohydrates at half time – a relatively eat-to-digest banana may suffice, but if you don't fancy running around with that in your stomach, grab a Fuel90 energy gel. This tasty gel is designed specifically for footballers to deliver 30g of carbohydrates per serving, as well as 380mg of electrolytes to support effective hydration and prevent cramp.
No matter how miserable the weather, remember that it’s only 90 minutes and you have a job to do. Cultivating a positive mindset and fuelling your body correctly in a match where nobody else wants to be there can help you be the difference for your team.
Unless you are on the subs bench of course... In this case, you can keep that thickly-insulated goose down jacket on!