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4 Ways To Avoid Overtraining

4 Ways To Avoid Overtraining

Yes, training too much can actually make players perform worse.

What’s more, overtraining can affect players both physically and mentally, and if it reaches the point of “staleness”, it can actually cause cellular-level injury that results in a break down of the body’s defenses against illness and nervous disorders. (Better Training for Distance Runners: Martin, Coe)

What is Overtraining?

According to,

The physical and mental demands placed on soccer players can eventually lead to diminished performance. Heavy and prolonged training may bring about what is known as overtraining syndrome, staleness or burnout. Furthermore, too many games within a short period of time can also lead to poor performance and increase the chances of illness or injury.

Indeed, fatigue can affect soccer players much in the same way weightlifters can “plateau” due to muscle fatigue.

What Are Symptoms of Overtraining?

Physical symptoms include:

  • Decreased performance
  • Inability to meet previously attained performance standards
  • Prolonged recovery
  • Decreased muscle strength
  • Loss of coordination
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Decreased body fat.
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches/ nausea
  • Muscle soreness or tenderness

Psychological symptoms include:

  • Feelings of depression
  • General apathy
  • Decreased self-esteem
  • Emotional instability
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Fear of competition
  • Giving up under pressure

Health symptoms include:

  • Increased susceptibility to colds and allergies
  • Flu-like illnesses
  • Minor scratches heals slowly
  • Swelling of lymph glands
  • One-day colds
  • Bacterial infection

How To Avoid Overtraining

Avoiding overtraining is relatively easy:

1. Allow for proper warm-up and cool-down

  • Warm-up and cool-down periods are important because they enable the athlete’s muscles to gradually adjust to changes in their workload during training and competition. Furthermore, they enable the athlete time to mentally prepare for those changes as well.

2. Ensure proper nutrition

  • Athletes expending more energy should increase their carbohydrate intake. However, it is important that athletes maintain proper protein, vitamin, and mineral levels as well to ensure proper cell function.

3. Ensure proper hydration

  • Water is essential in cell function and therefore, hydration is critical to athletic performance. Make sure that players are getting proper hydration before, during, and after play. Drink BEFORE you feel thirsty.

4. Rest

  • Rest periods allow the body to naturally heal and recover. Rest is a part of the process by which the body adapts to exertion. It is important include regularly scheduled rest periods. In addition, if players begin to feel that their strength or endurance is weakening, but they are neither sick nor injured, a period of rest may be needed.

Portions excerpted from Exercise Physiology in Soccer by Jan A. Vos, PhD.

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