Avram Grant explains how prolonging your soccer career is possible

  (photo credit: PR)
(photo credit: PR)

Do big numbers shock you? Well, brace yourself then because you’re surely going to be shocked when you find out that half of the world watches soccer. Yes, 3.5 billion people in the world aren’t just watchers, they have this sport in their favorites list. The sad part for the fans of this sport is that they can’t keep watching their favorite players play forever. It’s a game that demands a lot of physical strength and stamina. As a result, most soccer careers are quite short-lived no matter the fame and acclamation. 

On average, a soccer player will remain active in the sport for around 15 years. During this time, they can change their lives around, leave a legacy behind them, become a name in the world or gain absolutely nothing. That’s all the time you have. According to Avram Grant, an acclaimed soccer coach, “Fifteen years is all you’ve got in the world of soccer, but what many continue to forget is that it’s not these fifteen years that matter, it’s the several years before them that matter.”

If you are someone who loves soccer and wants to be a part of it, there are quite a few things you can do to prolong your career. Remember, an average does not mean that every single player’s career comprises only 15 years. Let’s first see if prolonging your career is even a possibility. 

40 Will Become a Norm in Soccer 

This one’s coming from a soccer player, not someone holding a can of soda, binging on snacks, and commenting on players. The English soccer player, Phil Neville, believes that more soccer fans should get accustomed to the idea of seeing players aged 40 and above playing actively in their teams. 

He thinks that fans are quick to judge players based on their age without realizing the many other factors that could be messing up with their performance. According to him, his best soccer years were the last half of his 30s. Him, as well as the famous Welsh soccer player, Ryan Giggs, are examples of players who changed their lifestyles and played even after they crossed 40. 

Based on this and many other aspects, let’s talk about the factors that could help you prolong your career as a soccer player. 

Start Yoga and Pilates 

Some of the most famous players in soccer have been endorsers of yoga. According to Avram Grant, “It’s going to be just as mentally challenging as it is physically challenging to start doing yoga. You’ll fear it because of how it works on your body, but more importantly, it’s something a lot of soccer players have still not accepted.” 

The one player who was one of the first to endorse yoga for soccer players and even gave the world his own DVD on yoga was Ryan Riggs. He loves it and thinks it can change the way soccer players think about their game. 

Similarly, you have Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi playing some of their best soccer in their mid and late 30s, and they both do yoga. 

Don’t be under the impression that practicing a lot will help you stay in the game for a long time. If you are spending hours on the field and then double the number of hours in practice, you are actually causing your body to exhaust. It will have a reverse effect, i.e., you will get tired soon and will have to quit soccer before you know it. 

Make Dietary Changes

No one’s telling you that you should start eating bland foods and quit all the flavors that life has to offer. However, you will have to make a few changes to the routine that most soccer players follow. First of all, you have to lower your fat intake and eat foods that give you quick bursts of energy. 

If you like to keep one hand on energy drinks, you might want to rethink your life choices. Bring whole foods for better health and stamina when you become a soccer player.  

Furthermore, there are foods that can help with joint health in athletes and other ordinary people. It can’t be emphasized enough why a soccer player would need their knees to be working perfectly. 

Knee osteoarthritis can be painful and cause a soccer star to completely quit the game forever. However, certain studies show that fish oil may help with OA, which means it can help people keep their knees healthy even when they have knee-specific arthritis. 

If you want to join the soccer world, you will have to make some dietary changes that are good for your bones and joints. 

Avoid Injuries

No wiser words could have been said. The biggest problem that could lead to you going out of your career is injuries. The worst part is that injuries aren’t confined to soccer. Just about any sport in the world demands that you take care of your health as a whole. 

Even the smallest injury can close the doors for you before you even enter international soccer. As a soccer player, the first type of injury that you have to avoid is the knee injury. It is more common in players than you might imagine. 

Studies show that nearly 18% of injuries that are severe in nature according to emergency departments at hospitals involve the knees of the players. If your knees aren’t working, you are not playing soccer and it’s as simple as that. 

There are some other injuries that you have to avoid in order to keep playing. Anterior cruciate ligament injury is considered one of the most commonly occurring injuries in even young soccer players. You don’t have to get hit by another player to develop this injury. 

Make a sudden stop or make a sharp turn while running after or with the football and you might end up with this injury. Usually, players end up with this injury when they are not participating in warm-ups as much as they should before playing the game. 

Don’t Overdo Things

Yes, that applies to the good things as well. You might think practicing a lot will make you a better player, but you have to draw the line somewhere. If you keep practicing, you can run into some serious problems that could be threatening to your soccer career. 

You might not have heard about it a lot but overtraining is a serious concern for many soccer players. Even if you are not clear about how much training you should do, you must have an idea of when to stop. Once you know that, you can avoid injuries that result from overtraining and over-practicing. 

One of the most important things you have to know here is that overtraining is usually a result of a mental state. Your performance in a match wasn’t good and you think it was due to lack of training. 

Firstly, you reach a state of overreaching where you overload your mind with mental stressors. Secondly, you start overtraining, which means putting more load on your body than it can handle. One of the worst consequences of overtraining is that your performance actually starts to go down. 

Just make sure that you avoid overtraining at all costs. More importantly, don’t tell things to your mind. If you are feeling down or you believe your performance is not up to par, you should talk to your soccer coach about it. At the learning stage, you shouldn’t decide things for yourself. 

Keep Your Mental Health Intact 

Could there be anything more important than mental health in any sport? Experts don’t hesitate even slightly in saying that in sports, it’s 20% of your physical strength that matters but 80% of the mental that plays a major role. Keeping that in mind, you should keep your mind healthy as a soccer player. 

Deteriorated mental health could result in increased depression among athletes in any sport, including soccer. If you are soon to become a soccer player, you have to take your mental health seriously. You can’t overlook the fact that a large population of soccer players in international soccer is having mental difficulties. 

A study in 2015 discovered the presence of some level of depression in nearly 38% of players in soccer. That’s quite a large percentage when you look at it. With those statistics in mind, it can be said that mental health issues do have a high chance of affecting you as a soccer player. 

Final Thoughts

If you are thinking that it is quite a challenge to prolong your soccer career then you are right. The players who have played until 40 and above have clearly stated that their lifestyle and dietary choices were not easy to keep up with in the beginning. They had to fight laziness, procrastination, and the general stigma in the industry that revolved around certain healthy practices before they could see the effects of their lifestyle changes in their careers. If you are a true soccer player by heart, none of these challenges should be too big for you. 

This article was written in cooperation with Intername Media