MODIFY PRE-MATCH TRAINING SESSIONS
Training at your usual intensity in blazing heat is suicidal. “If it’s really hot, you need to acclimatise first before building up the intensity for a match,” says Dawn Scott, fitness coach for the USA women's team. “Have shorter sessions with more rest periods, and do your debriefs and warm-ups in a shaded area.”
TAKE ANY RISKS
Heart rate monitors are a great idea in conditions that pile pressure on the system. “Some players cope a lot better than others with high temperature,” says Dawn. A monitor will give you a good idea if somebody is in the right shape. “If they have a very high rate, they’ll know to come off and recover.”
More after the break
ADAPT YOUR NUTRITION
Mercury-menacing temperatures can seriously punish a poorly-fuelled body. “Limit alcohol intake before and after matches, increase fluid intake during training sessions and games, and make sure you have a high GI carbohydrate and protein snack to recovery properly afterwards,” recommends Dawn. “A post-play chocolate milk or banana smoothie is perfect.”
FORGET THE NEXT DAY
After thundering around in roasting sun, it’s advisable to go easy on the static stretching immediately afterwards. Instead, rest up, then give your muscles a good loosening the next day. “A yoga or foam roll session the morning after is ideal, or have a light session on an exercise bike or swim,” says Dawn.
COOL DOWN PROPERLY
“Dip feet and hands in cool water before and after a session to increase circulation and bloodflow,” says Dawn. A tepid shower is ideal – avoid freezing ones, which will shock the system. Cooling down helps eliminate waste in the muscles and blood. “Compression garments will also help this, so wear them after a match to increase circulation.”
THINK YOU’RE SUPERMAN AFTERWARDS…
Battling through a bake-off is satisfying, and it’s no myth that heat training gets you fitter. “You’ll increase your blood volume, which means you can train for longer at higher intensities,” says Dawn. “But the benefits will wear off after seven to 10 days.” Appreciate that and build on it, rather than suddenly believing you’re Mo Farrah.
Dawn Scott was talking at the Science + Football Conference. For more information visit www.scienceandfootball.com.