Beating the big freeze
If we’d wanted to go ice skating, we’d have booked a trip to Hampton Court with the missus. But with an inevitable fixture backlog to get through, playing on frozen football pitches in the new year is part and parcel of the game.
The solution: “We’d recommend a firm ground (FG) sole plate, ideally something providing stability to help prevent the classic rolled ankle,” says Pro Direct’s boot guru, Ned Ozkasim. Why not try the Adidas ACE 15.1, which has a unique sole plate that provides a stable base on hard surfaces?
Making up the numbers
After a month on the mince pies and mulled wine, it’s amazing how many players suddenly have to work weekends or know of a wedding they must attend.
The solution: “Fear can be a powerful motivation,” says Inner Drive’s Bradley Busch, a mental skills coach who has worked with England. “People tend to feel losses stronger than they appreciate gains.” You could, then, threaten to drop the players who pick and choose when they play.
Facing the cold water treatment
Caked in mud or otherwise, an ice-cold shower in the middle of winter is no fun at all – for body or soul.
The solution: “If the changing rooms are in that bad a state, get yourself wrapped up as quickly as possible after the match and get some hot food inside you – even if it’s just a bit of soup,” advises Millwall physio Bobby Bacic. “The shower can wait.”
Taking the sting out of the situation
There are few things more painful on a cold day than having a (cold) football fired at your (cold) limbs from point-blank range – the dreaded ‘stinger’.
The solution: There isn’t one, says Bacic. “It might hurt,” says the Millwall medic, “and you might have a ball print and a bruise, and you might get laughed at, but there’s no lasting damage. Like a ball in the nuts, it’s an occupational hazard. Just run it off.”
Getting out of bed
We’ve all been there: looking out of the window on a January morning, praying for the ‘game off’ text that never comes.
The solution: Instead of switching off your phone and hoping for the best, it’s time to remind yourself why you ever bothered turning up in the first place. “People love playing football,” says sports psychologist Busch. “When you’re looking for motivation, focus on that.”
Picking acceptable winter wear
It’s so cold, you really, really want to wear gloves – and possibly tights – but what will your team-mates say?
The solution: “If you feel comfortable, you’re more likely to play better, so wear gloves if you want to,” says Bacic. “Besides, football isn’t perpetual motion, which keeps your hands warm by constantly pumping blood to them. In certain positions and in certain games, you might need them.” And tights? “It’s football, not ballet dancing…”
Soothing the sore points
Chafing, aka ‘Jogger’s nipple’, is the bane of every outdoor sportsman at this time of year. Cold = smuggling peanuts.
The solution: Cream, petroleum jelly (below), plasters and a base layer – “any barrier, basically,” according to Bacic. Alternatively, if you want to go the extra mile, take a look at the NipGuards on sale at runguards.com.
Overcoming a lack of body confidence
After no game and plenty of gain – weight gain, that is – this past month, you don’t feel like getting changed in front of your team-mates, let alone attempting to play football with them.
The solution: There’s no magic formula, says mind coach Busch: “Increase in competence is usually followed by an increase in confidence.” So get back in shape and work on your game – it’ll be spring before you know it.
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