Your Letters & Pictures
Cool Down By Coach Lawrence Fine
Surprisingly, a lot of teams out there are not having a proper cool down as part of their regular training session. Everything I have read and heard indicates that this is an extremely important part of the training session and by omitting this, you are losing out on an invaluable part of the training process.
The reasons for this are numerous. First of all, flexibility is an extremely important part of being a soccer player. The best time to increase your flexibility is NOT when you first start out stretching, but rather when your muscles are completely warmed up and actually ready to start shutting down. By not stretching at the conclusion of your training sessions, you lose out of the opportunity to increase your flexibility, which will end up hurting you in the long run.
Secondly, by slowly stretching after a hard workout, you can help your muscles relax which will help to prevent soreness the next day (as you can tell, I am NOT an expert in this field in any way but I do know what works for me and my teams). Taking those 10-20 minutes at the end of a training session to really cool down properly will save you from a lot of pain and suffering the next day. In my opinion, I can find that small amount of time to avoid the aches and pain the next day!
Then there is the wonderful opportunity to hydrate during this cool down period. I have been told that the most important time to replenish the body (with both fluids and food) is within 90 minutes of the conclusion of the work out. This means that if you want your body to recover properly for the next training session or game, you must start working on it as soon as the last session is over. Get a big drink of water (and I do strongly encourage players to drink water instead of any of the Gatorade/PowerAde type drinks) and relax while stretching and drinking.
Then when the stretching is done, get yet another drink of water before leaving the field (I used to have a player on my team who would have to stop at a convenience store on the way home from every practice to use their rest room because she drank so much after her training sessions but she never had problems with cramping or dehydration so she felt it was worth it).
There are many other invaluable reasons to participate in the cool down period as well. Not only does your body need to cool down and relax but also so does your mind. Before jumping in the car and driving home (or getting a ride home from your parents and have to listen to all of their opinions regarding the session) just relax and calm down. Itís not necessary to think about the training session or anything like that at this time but just relax.
This is also a great time for team bonding. While many coaches want their teams to ďconcentrateĒ when they stretch and not talk, this really is not important at all. As long as they are stretching properly, this is an excellent time for them to get to know each other better. As a coach, let them talk and have fun. Frequently, coaches complain about their team not being close enough and not getting along but then they donít give them the opportunity to get closer. This cool down period is a wonderful time to do this.
The last thing I want to mention regarding the cool down period is that itís an excellent time for the coach to give out information regarding the next training session, match or event. If itís a youth team, this might also be a good time for the coach to interact with either the players or the parents (itís not a bad idea for the coach to leave the players along for some of the cool down period which will allow for a more relaxed atmosphere for the players.
I try to build in a cool down period into every training session and match my teams are involved in. I donít consider this to be ďextra timeĒ either. In other words, if I am planning on doing an hour and 45 minute training session, this cool down period will usually be included in that time period.
If you are on a team and your coach doesnít have a cool down period, do it yourself! Remember, itís your body and if he doesnít have enough regard for your body to get you to do it then you must take some responsibility and do it yourself.
Any comments, questions or suggestions should be sent to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or posted at http://finesoccer.com/forum.htm
Have a great day.
Posted on 19 May 2006 by coachgianni