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Steele Canyon High School Women's Soccer: Health and Nutrition  

Steele Canyon High School Women's Soccer

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Last updated
03-14-17 02:32 PM
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Nutrition Myths
Nutrition Tips
Four Nutrition Myths Among Soccer Players
By Donald T. Kirkendall of U.S. Soccer

RESOURCE CENTER - February 19, 2004

Dr. Donald T. Kirkendall, who works with U.S. Soccer’s National Teams, examines four common myths about nutrition among soccer players.

Four Nutrition Myths Among Soccer Players
By Donald T. Kirkendall
There are more myths that coaches, players and parents may be following, but below four of the more common myths are dispelled. By following the nutritional guidelines below, players, coaches and teams can put themselves in an advantageous position before the match starts.

Myth 1: Game performance is not affected by what you eat.
Virtually every study on athletic performance for both team and individual sports shows that a diet rich in carbohydrates improves running performance. However, nutritional research from the 1970s to present day still show that soccer players choose a diet that is approximately 40 percent carbohydrates, 40 percent fat and 20 percent protein.

What is discouraging is that in the very early 70s, the Swedes conducted a study that showed soccer players with low muscle fuel (glycogen) walk about 50 percent of the game. Even 30 years later, a study showed that more than half of a national team in the 1994 FIFA World Cup thought food had nothing to do with their performance. The bottom line is that players eat what is put in front of them.

The more carbohydrates an athlete eats, the more endurance he or she will have. This means that when the end of the game approaches, the player will be able to run faster and longer if he or she consumed the proper amount of carbohydrates.

Myth 2: What you eat after the game does not matter.
At games and tournaments around the country, players will sometimes eat the worst post game snacks possible including soda, sweet drinks in soft packaging, potato chips, candy bars and fries. Everyone who has ever been to a soccer field on a weekend has seen this.

Muscles are most ready to receive a fresh supply of fuel during the first hour or two directly following exercise. The smart coaches and parents supply food that will start refilling muscles with carbohydrates at just that time.

A proper supply of carbohydrates is needed. It can come from a carbohydrate replenishment drink or other foods like bagels with jelly, pretzels, raisins or other dried fruit. This is even more critical between tournament games when the time between games is even shorter.

Myth 3: A diet is good as long as an athlete gets enough protein.
While most every survey of the athletic diet shows that players get all the protein they need from food, there is a problem. The vast majority of protein is consumed in conjunction with fat.

Marbled meat, ground beef, and fried chicken all are examples of protein that is combined with lots of fat. Red meat should be trimmed of fat, and ground beef should be very lean. Chicken should have the skin removed before cooking.

One place protein isn’t commonly found is the immediate post-exercise meal. A little protein helps in storing new fuel in the muscles faster than when there is no protein. Players can try to figure out a protein source after the game or drink a carbohydrate replenishment drink that contains protein.

Myth 4: Your body is the best indicator of when to drink; Mother Nature knows best.
For most mammals, it is OK not to drink until thirsty. However, the thirst mechanism of humans operates differently than the average mammal. In fact, the human thirst mechanism doesn’t even kick in until a person has lost about two percent of body weight from sweating. At this level, a decrease in performance begins to become evident.

Players should drink before starting the game, every 15-20 minutes during play if possible, and at halftime. Make sure the team has drink bottles along both sidelines and in the goals so players have easy access to fluids during stoppages of play. Don’t forget that playing in the cold is also dehydrating, so drinking fluids is just as important in cold weather.

Overall, it is important for the well-rounded player to keep an eye on what the eat and drink in order to get results on the field. For more information on nutrition in soccer, check out the Resource Center archives on the Services page of
This article is courtesy of U.S. Soccer RESOURCE CENTER - February 19, 2004

Muscle Cramps
A look at muscle cramps and what can be done to prevent them.


Potential Causes and Prevention Methods For Dealing with Cramping Muscles

Muscle cramping is not an uncommon problem among athletes. Although it is not entirely clear what causes muscle cramps, they are often instigated by loss of fluids and minerals during a hard workout or game. Sometimes muscle cramps can be serious enough to take a player out of a competition. According to U.S. Men s National Team Strength and Conditioning coach Pierre Barrieu, even though the causes of muscle cramps are not entirely known, that does not mean measures cannot be taken to prevent them.

Potential Causes of Muscle Cramps

Actually, science hasn t figured it out completely, Barrieu said about the causes of muscle cramps. Probably one of the reasons is dehydration, another one is lack of minerals that is affecting the regular muscle contracting mechanism. It also has something to do with the central nervous system.

Dehydration is certainly one of the most common factors that contribute to muscle cramps, which are often coupled with large losses of minerals such as sodium, calcium and potassium through sweat. Fluid, mostly water, makes up more than 70 percent of the human body. Along with the loss of sodium a mineral that initiates signals from nerves, which in turn leads to muscle movement and other minerals, the loss of fluid in the human body may cause muscles to become irritable. When the muscles are irritated in such a way, any slight stress, such as movement, may cause the muscles to contract and twitch uncontrollably.

Another factor in muscle cramping may be flexibility. Most people tend to relate lack of flexibility and stretching to pulled muscles, however, according to Barrieu, if the muscle is tight, it tends to cramp a lot easier than other muscles.

Preventing Muscle Cramps

Since the majority of muscle cramps are associated with loss of fluids and minerals as well as tight muscles, the most obvious preventative measures are to keep well hydrated, replace the sodium and other minerals lost through excessive sweating and stretch adequately.

You definitely want to make sure that your players don t get dehydrated, said Barrieu. Same thing with minerals.

When it comes to the Men s National Team, Barrieu makes sure players are hydrated and get plenty of salt. Salt not only replenishes sodium lost through sweat, it also retains water, which helps players stay better hydrated.

Barrieu also makes sure that players get enough minerals such as potassium and calcium and works on flexibility daily, making sure that players muscles are not overly tight, especially since some players are more prone to cramps than others. Stretching properly on game day is particularly important because of the intensity of the workout.

Another way to prevent muscle cramps is not only to pay attention to hydration, but also to make sure to avoid dehydration by staying away from alcohol, said Barrieu.

When you drink alcohol you definitely expose yourself to cramps, Barrieu said. The reason is that alcohol is sucking a lot of water out of your cells. You definitely have to stay away from alcohol if you re an athlete and you don t want to cramp.

Relieving Muscle Cramps

Sometimes muscle cramps occur despite an athlete s efforts to prevent them. When muscles cramp during a workout, they can be relieved by:

1. Stretching. A muscle cramp is the contraction of a muscle, so what the athlete needs to do is try to relax that particular muscle, which often brings to mind the typical image of a person stretching, Barrieu said.

2. Drinking fluid. If the muscle cramping is extreme (whole body cramping), fluid should be given through an IV, said Barrieu. However, players should try to rehydrate with a fluid containing electrolytes, such as Gatorade, so that the muscle may receive the minerals it requires to function properly. According to research from U. Connecticut, oral rehydration (drinking) offeres psychological and physiological recovery benefits not obtained from IV treatments.

3. Adequate recovery. This actually means resting and trying to make sure that the muscle is not active until the central nervous system recovers and no longer sends signals to that muscle to contract.

So while the exact causes of muscle cramps may be unknown, cramping can often affect a player s productivity on the field, which makes preventing muscle cramps very important. Adequate hydration, stretching and staying flexible and making sure that the proper mineral levels are maintained are all key factors in avoiding muscle cramps. Also important is avoiding alcohol and other such drinks that dehydrate the body, and making sure that if a player s muscles do cramp, that player allows the affected muscles to relax and recover completely.

Information obtained from Men s National Team Strength and Conditioning coach Pierre Barrieu and the Gatorade Sports Science Institute,

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ACL Issues for Female Players
Training Techniques, And Their Effect on Frequency of ACL Injuries in Female Soccer Players?

By Holly J. Silvers, MPT
Director of Research / Physical Therapist
Santa Monica Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Research Foundation

Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries are among the most common of all sports-related knee injuries, affect the lives of more than 250,000 people in the United States each year.

Studies conducted during the past three decades have indicated that female athletes sustain non-contact injuries to the ACL of the knee more frequently than their male counterparts. In a study conducted at Duke University, Drs. Bing Yu and William E. Garrett, Jr. found that female recreational athletes incur non-contact ACL injuries 7.3 times more often than that of male recreational athletes.

ACL injuries are often season-ending and require reconstructive surgery and four to six months of rehabilitation. Players who opt to delay an ACL surgery often suffer secondary injuries such as meniscal tears, articular cartilage injury, or medial and lateral collateral ligament injury.

Possible prevention strategies for ACL injuries were discussed at a panel briefing during the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting in San Francisco, Calif. earlier this year.

According to research presented, four risk factors have been studied in order to understand the causes of ACL injury: anatomy, hormones, environmental factors and biomechanics. The studies, including the one conducted at Duke University, indicate that by intervening just within biomechanics, there can be a decrease in the number of significant knee injuries in the female athletic population.

The Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Research Foundation has collaborated with U.S. Soccer, FIFA, University of Southern California and the Centers for Disease Control to better understand the mechanism of injury of non-contact ACL injuries and has worked diligently to develop an effective prevention program.

These researchers completed a randomized controlled trial with sixty-one Division I NCAA women s soccer teams in the 2002 season. Each team was randomized to one of two groups: those performing the program (intervention group) and those who continued to do what they were doing in previous seasons (control group).

The study was conducted for 14 weeks over the course of the fall season. The athletes in the intervention group performed a twenty-minute alternative warm-up called the PEP Program (Prevent Injury and Enhance Performance). This intervention group demonstrated a 100-percent decrease in non-contact ACL injuries during practice and an overall 45-percent decrease in non-contact ACL injury (game and practice) compared to the control group.   

Additionally, the rate for ACL injury was reduced even further a 72-percent reduction, when analyzing the last six weeks of the season. This is because muscle adaptation and neuromuscular training takes approximately four to six weeks to make an effective change in an athlete.

This research indicates that a program that addresses landing technique, core stability, balance and proprioception (joint awareness) can effectively decrease the incidence of ACL injuries in the soccer athlete.

Dr. Timothy E. Hewett of the Cincinnati Children s Hospital and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, noted at the conference that sports programs commonly use training programs for athletes in order to reduce significant injuries.

Hewett and his colleagues initiated a study to examine the effects of a comprehensive training program in order to analyze injury rates, performance and biomechanics in female athletes. The athletes trained three days a week for 90 minutes followed by 15 minutes of stretching exercises. The results demonstrated that females increased speed during timed sprints after training.

The study also demonstrated significant desirable biomechanical changes during a landing maneuver following the training. In contrast, the control group demonstrated no significant increase in any of the above measured parameters.

Overall, these studies and the research that was presented show that by focusing on a player s movement patterns, individual performance deficits can be determined. By giving all players a comprehensive intervention or a warm-up program, such as the PEP Program, these deficits can be addressed. As the research shows, with the use of a program, that the players are more likely to continue performing at a high level without incurring season ending injuries.

For information on the research presented in this article and the PEP Program including a downloadable .pdf describing its components, visit the Web site at

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Strength training for soccer players

An Introduction to Strength Training for Soccer
Renato Capobianco, MA, CSCS

I've often heard people say that lifting weights is bad for soccer players because it makes you slow and you lose flexibility. Well, that statement can be both true and false. If one embarks on the wrong type of strength training program, say, one more suited for body building, and doesn't bother to work on their flexibility, then it would be easy to think that lifting weights is detrimental to a soccer player. But if the right kind of strength training program is used and a player continues to work on their flexibility, strength training with weights can be a beneficial form of training for soccer players. This is kind of like saying that eating food makes one fat. If you eat the wrong foods all the time, never watch your caloric intake, and never exercise, eating any virtually any food under those circumstances will make you fat. But, if you tailor your diet to suit your needs and include proper exercise, one will see that food as the necessity it is.

We must always ask ourselves, "Why are we doing what we are doing?" Time is precious so let's use it efficiently. I recently gave a summer conditioning program to a college soccer team. I made it very clear that the strength training aspect of the program was to supplement their soccer playing and their anaerobic/aerobic conditioning. Inevitably, some of the players will find that lifting in an air conditioned gym is less strenuous and more fun than running shuttles in the hot summer sun. In their mind, they got their workout out in, right? By the end of the summer, they may have missed 6-8 running sessions and countless 4v4 games because, in their mind, the strength training constituted a soccer workout. Hence, the loss of flexibility and the decreased ability to run for 90 minutes.

Strength training is a very important element in developing a total athlete. However, it should be viewed as one of many elements a soccer player must enhance. I place it in the same category as juggling, playing soccer tennis, being proficient at 5 v 2, and the development of individual skills. All these activities will improve one's touch and decision making in tight spaces. Hopefully one will see this translate onto the field in the form of better technical skills and improved decision making. Strength training can make movements faster and more powerful. I also believe that, especially with teenage players, increased strength can give a player added confidence, especially when having to go into challenges with bigger players. How you apply the added strength and power as it relates to a soccer situation will ultimately determine how effective it is.

Strength training for soccer should be approached as a total body proposition. The upper body, the core (abs, obliques, low back), and the legs must be part of a comprehensive program. One should focus on exercises that strengthen groups of muscles versus exercises that only work individual muscles. Remember that 99 % of all body movements in an athletic setting take place when a group of muscles work together in a kinetic chain. This is where the phrase "Train muscles, not movements" comes from.

Common Soccer Injuries
Coaching sports can be rewarding and stressful as it is without having to worry about injuries to your players. However, there may be situations when appropriate medical personnel are not available and the care of the athlete is in your hands. Here are some general guidelines regarding injuries that often occur on the soccer field.

1. Coaches should at the very minimum be certified in CPR and First Aid. Knowing these basics will allow you to think clearly should an emergency arise.

2. Remember R.I.C.E.: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Most common injuries encountered in soccer will follow this general principle. DO NOT use heat while swelling is present to the extremity. Apply ice to the injured area for 15-20 minutes. Adding heat will increase the swelling, while ice will help decrease it.

3. Let common sense prevail. If there is a deformity, DO NOT move the athlete. Call 911 and let trained personnel handle the situation.

4. Communicate with parents and inform them of the situation if they are not on-site at the time of the injury.

5. Be conservative. If you have doubts as to an athletes' ability to play, do not let them play.

Ankle Injuries
 1. Most ankle injuries involve ligaments and tendons (i.e. sprains). In instances like this, follow the R.I.C.E. principle. These injuries often turn into recurring injuries if the athlete returns to activity too soon. If the athlete experiences pain during activity, he/she should be removed from competition. If the pain level increases in the following days, the athlete should see a physician.

2. If a deformity is present, do not attempt to put the limb in place or move the limb. Immediately call 911 or EMS personnel.
Deep Thigh Bruise
Usually caused by direct contact to the thigh, a deep thigh bruise is very painful and can lead to potential problems.
 1. Ice immediately with the knee in a bent position. This will help maintain flexibility to the thigh muscle.

2. Instruct the athlete to keep stretching the thigh. This will prevent swelling/blood from “settling” in the muscle and limit movement.

Knee Injuries

The knee is the most vulnerable joint in the body and should be dealt with caution. Injuries can occur to the ligaments, tendons, kneecap, cartilage (meniscus) and bones (growth plates). Here are some indications of significant injury to the knee: Hearing or feeling a “pop” or a “snap” in the knee. Feeling that the knee “gave out” Sharp pain Obvious deformity Limited movement Swelling
1. Apply ice immediately and immobilize the knee. When immobilizing the knee, be sure to splint the ankle. As a general rule to follow, the joint above and below the injured joint should be splinted.

2. In all instances involving a knee injury, the athlete must follow-up with a physician. Head Injuries There are currently many different theories regarding head injuries and concussions and how to treat them.

The following guidelines are essential to insuring safe return to play for your athlete:
1. When in doubt, keep the athlete out. Any player who appears to have suffered a concussion should be removed from participation and evaluated by a physician as soon as is practical. Players exhibiting prolonged loss of consciousness or marked amnesia should be evaluated immediately in an emergency room. Players should not be allowed to return to play if they exhibit the symptoms (headache, nausea, blurred vision, dizziness, ringing in the ears, unsteadiness, confusion) of concussions.
2. If an athlete loses consciousness, call 911 and activate EMS. Before this athlete can return to competition or practice, he must be cleared by a physician.

3. Athletes, in the eagerness to play, may fudge the truth when telling the coach how they feel. As part of the overall evaluation, have the athlete perform sport-specific movements on the sideline and watch for unsteadiness, lethargy, uncoordinated movements. They may lie, but their bodies won’t.

Neck Injuries
Any athlete that sustained a hit and complains of neck pain, or numbness and tingling to extremities, MUST NOT BE MOVED. Immediately call 911. If the athlete is not breathing, your priority is to get the athlete breathing, which means you – or another trained person on-site must begin CPR. However, neck injuries pose a unique problem when CPR is initiated. We encourage all coaches and staff to contact their local EMS provider and learn how and when to use ‘log rolling’ when in this situation. Soccer, like most sports, contains the risk of injury, but the use of shin guards and on-field awareness can lessen that risk. In the case of an injury, stay calm and seek medical help. The general guidelines listed above should not be used as a substitute for seeking trained personnel. Remember that a player’s health is the first priority in situations where an injury appears to have occurred, and trained medical personnel are best able to deal with such situations.

Information compiled by U.S. Soccer's Manager of Sports Medicine Administration Hughie O'Malley and Athletico trainers Lynn Grosman and Rich Monis. For more information please contact O’Malley at or 312 528 1225. - -

Steele Canyon High School Women's Soccer
Steele Canyon High School Women's Soccer
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