Have you had a number of match postponements during the winter months? It's that time of year where the fixtures could start to pile up for you and your players, perhaps down to poor weather or you've progressed further in cup competitions. It's important that your team are able to recover from a number of fixtures in a short space of time and as the coach, it's crucial that you help them to recharge their batteries in whatever way possible.
Whilst you may not have the facilities of a top professional club, follow these top tips to help your players recover in time for your next fixture!
Cut back in training
It's of course beneficial to keep up your training schedule and improve your team's fitness, but if you have a fixture pile up, a small break from training can help towards your players' rest. Rather than letting your players burn themselves out in training, it could do them good to have a little rest to let them recharge, so ease back in training when going through a busy period. By overloading your training schedule whilst having fixture congestion, this could lead to fatigue and injury in your players, which would not help your run in at all!
It's important that your players warm up and stretch sufficiently before a match, helping to prevent injury which could put your players out of action in a crucial period. Muscular injuries such as strains and tears often come about because of a poor warm up, so failing to stretch their muscles properly could leave them unprepared for a game, particularly if they've played a lot of games recently. Make sure your players also cool down after a match as well, helping to remove any lactic acid from their muscles and starting their recovery immediately for the next match.
Make sure your players are well rested between games - particularly during a busy period - and there are a number of ways they can help aid their recovery. First off, make sure they are getting a good amount of sleep the night before a game, with 7/8 hours sleep as a recommended guideline. Your players need to also eat and drink the right things in between matches; eat plenty of carbohydrates to help store energy, as well as eating plenty of protein to help their muscles repair and avoid drinking alcohol. Also encourage your players to take ice baths, which may be horrible, but they do help the muscles recover from exercise!
As the coach, it's important that you manage your players well, particularly when going through a busy patch of games. If you see that some of your players are knackered and need a break, then try manage their time on the pitch and don't risk them to begin with if they are extremely fatigued. Encourage your players to look after themselves off the pitch and make them aware that if they have any issues, they can come to you to discuss this. If you have a big squad in particular then don't be afraid to change your team - tired or injured players won't help you get important results on the pitch!
This time of year can often be crucial to your team's season, whether that is going for glory or fighting for survival. Make sure you and your players are ready to deal with the fixture congestion in the best possible way!