Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fitness: Got it? Don't lose it!

The season is officially over for most of us. The final, last minute make-up games are completed and we've probably all put our gear away for the winter. You deserve some time off after some of us averaged over 70 games for the fall season (some of us, more). But don't kick your feet up just yet.

Think about the beginning of the season... were you sore and tired? Now be honest with yourself: Do you think you were in the best shape? Or did you have to cut a few corners on several games until your legs were back under you? We all have the tendency to get lazy during the off-season which only makes it harder to get back into shape. So instead of hurting for the first two weekends of the season try adding a little fitness to your winter routine to keep what you've worked hard for during the fall.

It only takes a little bit of effort to at least maintain the fitness level you had during the peak of the season. Taking time to workout three or more days a week will mean that you are all ready to go when the season gets started in February (or earlier if you travel to other tournaments). Try a few of these things to have a successful training regiment:

  • Make it fun. If running 3 miles doesn't appeal to you then don't make it your everyday workout. Instead try doing something you enjoy like swimming, skiing, cycling or taking a brisk hike. Incorporate your workout into a group activity so you are more motivated to stick to your plan.
  • Prevent injuries. Staying in shape will help you prevent injuries at the beginning of the season but if you're not careful your training could cause an injury. With colder temperatures around its critical that you warm-up properly. Frank Serianni recommends this great article for tips on how to keep your muscles limber.
  • Make a plan, stick to it. Setting goals for yourself throughout the off-season will focus your effort and make you more likely to stick to your plan. Training for a specific event, like a road race, will give your work a purpose. There are some great websites out there that will give you events locally that you can participate in.
Overall just try to keep your feet moving one way or another during these winter months. If you know of other soccer referees in your area get together and make a training plan. I know that it is much easier for me to workout in a group. Plus, they can bug you to come on out when you feel like staying inside. This downtime is also a great time to brush up on your knowledge of the Laws of the Game or catch up on old Week in Review articles on US Soccer.

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