Soccer is a fast-paced game requiring speed, good footwork skills and accurate passing. The kind of pass you choose to execute depends on the defense and positioning of your opponents. Some passes are used to create a strong offensive drive and scoring opportunities, while defensive passes are used to slow down the game or maintain possession of the ball when under pressure. A good soccer player has the ability to kick several types of passes.
Sometimes referred to as a direct pass, this is probably one of the most-used passes in soccer. It tends to be a safe pass and is typically executed when you’re near teammates. The best technique for the push pass is to first plant your nonkicking foot alongside the ball and point it in the direction you want the ball to go. When you contact the ball, use the inside of your kicking foot. You want to hit the middle of the ball with your kicking heel down and the toe pointing up.
The long pass is used to clear the ball to the opposite side of the field to a teammate who is open and has no defenders around her. This changes the area of play and gives your team the opportunity to begin a counterattack. Executing a long pass involves hitting the ball with accuracy and power. A good technique to use is to lock the ankle of your kicking foot, hit the middle of the ball with the laces of your cleats and follow through toward your teammate with your kicking leg.
This is a defensive pass and is used when defending players have closed off all forward passing possibilities. It is also used when defenders put pressure on the offensive ball carrier, hoping to steal the ball or cause a passing error. The backward pass is a way to neutralize the pressure and still maintain control of the ball. The ball is passed backward with the heel or sole of your foot to another teammate.
The piercing pass is also referred to as a tunnel pass or a through pass. The opportunity to use a piercing pass does not happen often when playing against a good defense because the defenders typically position themselves to avoid an open space, or tunnel, from the ball carrier to her attacking teammate. This pass requires good timing between teammates because the receiving teammate must not be in an offside position when the ball is passed. This is where the receiving player is closer to the goal than the last defender. When the opportunity does arise, the attacker quickly passes the ball, penetrating the defenders. This creates a scoring potential.
This is a combination pass involving two teammates and is sometimes referred to as a one-two pass. This type of pass involves a wing player and an inside teammate. The wing player’s position usually runs along the outside of the field. When the wall pass is executed properly, the wing player passes the ball from the outside of the field to a teammate playing a position toward the inner part of the field. This player acts as a wall and quickly passes the ball back in front of the wing player. Wall passes are most effective against slower defenses.
Hyperventilation is a state of uncontrolled, rapid breathing. The fast-paced breathing expels more carbon dioxide from your body than usual, causing your blood’s carbon dioxide level to drop and its pH to rise. As a result, the arteries constrict, causing feelings of dizziness or light-headiness. Other symptoms of hyperventilation include chest pain, numbness or tingling in the arms, weakness and confusion. Hyperventilation can be brought on as a result of the changes that occur in your body during exercise.
A certain workload — intensity along with duration of exercise — induces hyperventilation, according to findings by “The British Journal of Sports Medicine.” This onset during exercise is caused by changes that your body undergoes to prepare for the increase in activity. In anticipation of exercise, your brain sends signals to the respiratory center to increase breathing to meet oxygen demands. In certain situations, such as panic or accumulation of lactic acid from intense exercise, breathing may become abnormally rapid and hyperventilation occurs.
Panic is a common cause of hyperventilation, according to the National Library of Medicine. During intense exercise, you might experience feelings of panic if the effort becomes too hard. Discomfort felt in overly working muscles and labored breathing may also produce panic. The University of Iowa found that during overexertion, if people think they are having trouble breathing, they will breathe faster to compensate. The perception of pain from intense exercise can cause panic and may result in rapid breathing and hyperventilation.
A study by the University of Iowa found that the accumulation of lactic acid in fatiguing muscles during exercise causes blood pH — concentration of hydrogen ions — to drop below normal.The mechanisms in the blood that normally buffer — prevent changes in pH — are overridden by the rate of lactate production during intense exercise, and pH continues to drop. Breathing rate is increased and hyperventilation occurs to rid the body of excess hydrogen along with carbon dioxide, and to compensate for the drop in pH.
Carbon dioxide levels in the blood must be restored to correct hyperventilation, according to Kenneth Saladin, author of “Anatomy and Physiology: The Unity of Form and Function.” Breathing in and out of a paper bag — the expelled air contains carbon dioxide — is one recommended method. Covering your mouth and breathing through one nostril is another method. Hyperventilation onset by panic should be corrected by attempting to remain calm and inhaling deeply.
The spinal column is made up of small bones — called vertebrae — stacked on top of each other. Nerves exit the spine between each of these bones — one nerve on each side. These spinal nerves can be compressed by surrounding structures causing symptoms that may interfere with daily tasks. See your doctor if you suspect you have a pinched nerve.
Pain is a common symptom associated with L5-S1 pinched nerves. This may feel like a dull ache or a sharp pain. L5 nerve compression causes pain along the outer border of the back of your thigh, while S1 nerve compression causes pain in your calf and the bottom of your foot. This pain can range from mild to severe and may be constant or intermittent. Pain often worsens with standing, sitting or while sleeping. Sneezing, coughing or laughing may also increase your pain.
Numbness or tingling in one or both legs typically occurs with L5-S1 pinched nerve. You may feel the sensation of pins and needles between your big toe and second toe and the top of your foot with L5 nerve compression, and the outer edge and bottom of your foot with S1 nerve compression. Numbness can make it difficult to feel pain on the bottom of your foot, which increases your risk of injury.
With prolonged L5-S1 nerve impingement, you may develop weakness in one or both legs as nerve impulses to the muscles are interrupted. This can significantly impact your balance and walking ability. L5 nerve compression makes it difficult for you to lift up your big toe and pull your foot upward while S1 nerve compression may make it difficult to point your foot down and rotate it outward. Surgery may be required to relieve the L5-S1 nerve root compression if weakness has developed.
Effective athletic training requires more technology than most may consider. From the undergarments athletes wear to the shoes they wear, researchers have worked hard to develop the best apparel for maximum performance. Injuries at all sport levels have led to modified development of baseball bats, helmets and other protective gear.
Shoe technology is vital to athletic training. The correct shoe can make a difference in how far a long jumper can jump and how fast a runner runs. Shoe makers have used sports technology to design shoes specific to each sport. The design of the shoe¡¯s sole, the materials used on the side and the location of the laces all help to increase athletic performance. For example, Asics designs running shoes for each type of runner. Its shoe design is based on frequency of training, the natural movement of your foot and performance level.
Athletic training takes place all year long, inside and out. Clothing must therefore keep athletes warm in the cold and cool in the heat without altering movement. Technology in athletic clothing has made performing in all weather possible. Some companies take it one step further with innovative designs to keep you comfortable and dry. Athletic clothing company Under Armour began by developing a t-shirt that wicks sweat from the body rather than absorbs it. It implements the same technology into every piece of training apparel an athlete wears. It has also developed LockerTags which comfortably replaced traditional clothing tabs that display jersey numbers with imprints within the garment.
Technology in tracking athletic performances includes pedometers, sports watches, scales, body fat calculators and heart rate monitors. Tracking helps athletes monitor their success in achieving specific goals such as weight loss or weight gain. Heart rate monitors allow athletes to track their fitness levels based on their heart rates. It also allows individuals to accurately calculate the amount of calories burned. Sports watches with advance technology have the capabilities to tell time, record laps and even control portable music devices.
The age of broom stick baseball bats and leather football helmets are long gone. Today every piece of equipment for every sport has undergone technological advancements. Baseball bats, hockey sticks and lacrosse sticks are designed to maximize power, movement and comfort. Most notably to sport spectators, protective gear has seen an technology overhaul. Helmets and pads that were once almost non-existent are continually being revamped based on the latest technology and injury prevention research. The 2010 ¡°USA Today¡± article Progressions: Evolution of the football helmet since 1946, by Joan Murphy and Sean Dougherty documents the evolution of the simple plastic football helmet in the 1950s to the electronically equipped helmets with breathability and appropriate padding worn in 2010. The current advancements even allow researchers and medical personal to record the impact of hits.
Athletic training programs have evolved with the advancement in technology. The inventions of DVDs, the internet and portable devices have all made training at home more efficient. Thanks to technology, many homes are now equipped with compact home gyms and workout DVDs. Famous personal trainers are delivering every kind of workout imaginable in living rooms around the world. Websites and DVD programs offer exercise videos, tracking tools, email support and nutrition plans that were once only taught in person or by reading books.
The 400-meter relay race is a significant race in major track and field events, such as the Olympics, the World Championships and national championships. Relay races are won by the teams that finish the race in the fastest time, but there are other factors involved besides speed. A relay team must be well-coordinated and possess the ability to pass a baton from one member of the team to the next without dropping it while maintaining maximum speed.
A full lap around a world-class outdoor track is 400-meters. During this race, each runner runs 100 meters with a baton in-hand and stays in his own lane. Because tracks curve, it looks like the runners in the outside lanes have a significant lead on those running in inside lanes, but each runner runs the same distance throughout the race.
The leadoff runners in this race start off in starting blocks. They hold the baton in one hand and take off when they hear the starter’s gun. If a runner leaves the starting blocks early, the gun fires a second time to indicate a false start, and the race must start again. If a runner makes a second false start, his team is disqualified from the race.
After each runner runs his leg of the 400-meter relay race, he hands off the baton to his teammate. That teammate must receive the baton within a 20-meter area. If the pass comes before or after that area, the pass is considered illegal, and the team is disqualified. Also, if a runner drops the baton while passing or in the middle of the race, the team is disqualified.
The team that completes four separate baton passes legally and successfully and has its last runner cross the finish line first wins the race. Because the 400-meter relay involves such fast and decisive passes, judges sometimes have to review recordings of significant races (Olympics, World Championships, national championships, Olympic Trials) before declaring a winner.
Resistance training is an important part of any football player’s development. Getting stronger can make you faster, more powerful and increase your athleticism. While many football players use barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells and machines in their lifting program, calisthenics, or body-weight exercises can be just as effective, provided you implement and program them correctly.
Pushups and pullups should be part of your upper-body calisthenics routine. As a conditioned athlete, you may find regular pushups too easy, so strength coach Zach Even-Esh recommends trying one-arm pushups or handstand pushups. Alternatively, shoot for a higher number of reps — Even-Esh suggests doing 100 consecutively. As for pullups, not only do they build your back and biceps and have a large carryover to total upper-body strength, they also help prevent injuries by developing these areas, notes trainer Adam Copeland on the Elite Fitness Systems website. Use different grips for your pullups to make them more challenging and to add variety to your routine.
Regular squats and lunges are fine for working your lower body, but they can get a little tedious and probably won’t be too challenging after a while. Instead, try Bulgarian split squats, which you do with your back leg on a bench and front leg on the floor. These strengthen your glutes while improving hip flexibility, which will help you jump further, claims strength coach Joe DeFranco. Plyometric lower-body exercises are also vital for boosting strength and power, so add squat jumps, box jumps, jump lunges and lateral and broad jumps into your workouts.
The best time to make strength gains is during your off-season, when you don’t have the demands of regular games. In “Complete Conditioning for Football,” authors Pat Ivey and Josh Stoner prescribe three body weight calisthenic circuits. The first involves two sets of 20 reps for pushups, split squats and body weight squats. The second one consists of two sets of 20 split jumps, six 15-yard dashes while pushing a weight plate and 20 total pull-ups. The final circuit consists of pushups, squats and inverted rows, which are like a pull-up except you use a bar at chest height and your feet are positioned straight out in front of you on the floor. Do 20 reps of each exercise in two sets.
If these workouts become too easy, there are plenty of ways you can progress your calisthenic workouts. Try adding a sprint after each circuit, or jumping rope instead of taking a complete rest. You can add more exercises, increase your reps or try more advanced movement variations. This could involve holding the squats for three seconds in the bottom position, performing one-and-a-half reps on split squats by going all the way down, halfway up, all the way down again, then all the way up for one rep. Pushups can be made more challenging by using a narrow grip or raising your feet on a box. For chin-ups, take five seconds to lower yourself for each rep.
Any sport that depends on movement and strength uses the hamstrings to provide speed, quickness and power, but there are some sports where the impact of the hamstring muscle — located in the back of the thigh and running from the buttocks to just above the knee — is dramatic.
While all runners depend on their hamstrings, the sprinter’s success depends largely on the health and strength of this muscle. The hamstring is put to the test at the start of any sprint race because of the explosive strength that is needed to propel the runner out of the starting blocks. Then the athlete must accelerate and maintain that speed throughout the race. The sprinter will build strength in hamstring muscles with weight training and maintain flexibility through stretching exercises.
Football players need the ability to accelerate and reach top speed. They also need to change directions quickly, jump high to catch passes and absorb powerful hits, and then do it all over again. This means they are dependent on the health and viability of their hamstrings. For a running back to have success, he must accelerate past tacklers and get into the open field to make big plays. Former Detroit Lion Barry Sanders is recognized as one of the most dangerous running backs in football history because of his ability to break the big play. His overall leg strength allowed him to jump out of potential tackles and his powerful hamstrings gave him the ability to make long runs.
The freestyle stroke in swimming is dependent on the hamstring muscle with every kick. The hamstring muscle must be sufficiently warmed up when you get in the pool or you will put yourself at risk for cramps or hamstring pulls. Once you are warmed up and ready to train or race in an event, swimming itself helps to strengthen the hamstring muscle. Many athletes in other sports use swimming to help condition or strengthen hamstring muscles.
The explosive jumping that results in a basketball dunk, a blocked shot or coming up with a key rebound often is the result of hamstring strength. When basketball players leap off one foot, they are using an explosive movement powered by the hamstring; However, when a basketball player is using the two-foot jump — usually when the player is planted under the basket — the quads, glutes and back muscles take over. A player must build strength and flexibility in the hamstrings when executing the one-foot jump that is so common when the player is sprinting up the court toward the rim.
Outdoor recreation is enjoyable for men, women and children of all ages. Performing physical exercise while outdoors provides a way to get outside and enjoy your natural surroundings. Aside from breathing fresh air and discovering nature’s many wonders, the outdoors provides various activities to keep you wanting to go back outside for more. The benefits of outdoor recreation are endless and will help keep you and your family physically and mentally healthy.
Outdoor recreation provides a multitude of advantageous physical activities that may be performed in solitude, with several friends and family members, or with your local recreational sports team. Sports such as hiking, canoeing, swimming, racket and ball sports and numerous other physical activities give you more choices for enjoyable exercise, which is likely to keep you motivated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that adults perform at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intense activity every week.
Adults and children alike benefit socially from outdoor physical activity. Participating in sports and recreation provides kids to seniors with an opportunity to meet and build relationships with others. Participating on a team will help you to form lasting friendships with people who share your passion for outdoor recreation.
Physical activity helps reduce stress and prevents some cases of depression. Exercise reduces anxiety, and consistent activity provides more relief for anxiety and depression. Better self-esteem often results from consistent recreation, partially due to a decrease in stress and to the overall feeling of well-being that occurs from regular aerobic exercise. Breathing fresh air in a natural, serene environment also helps many people to relax and reduce stress and anxiety.
Studies show that people who exercise regularly experience longer, deeper, more restful sleep. Better sleep results in more energy and alertness the following day, allowing better concentration and ability to think on higher levels. Along with better rest and rejuvenation for your body during the night, regular physical activity that reduces stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression will help you to concentrate more during the day.
Speed is a vital component in most sports — most obviously during track and road races but also in sports as diverse as soccer, baseball and tennis. Increasing your speed can give you an edge on your opponents, whether you¡¯re racing them to the finish line or chasing a loose ball on the field. Several activities can help you improve your foot speed, and you can vary your workouts by trying more than one method.
Ordinary running is a fairly natural motion, but you must use correct form to maximize your speed. ABC drills are classic running exercises that work on different aspects of your form. To do the ¡°A¡± drill, walk or skip forward while lifting your front knee to about hip level. Pump your opposite arm forward and bend your elbow 90 degrees. The ¡°B¡± drill is similar, but instead of simply lifting your bent knee, you extend your calf forward until your entire leg is nearly parallel with the floor — without locking the knee — and then you bring your lead foot down directly below your body. Do the ¡°C¡± drill by kicking your heels up toward your butt with every stride. Do each drill for five minutes, twice per week.
Running a series of sprints is a common way to increase speed. Run as hard as you can for 30 to 50 yards, rest for three minutes and then run another sprint. Work up to 10 repetitions, and focus on running with your knees high and your arms pumping in straight lines, forward and backward, rather than crossing in front of your chest.
Running up hills is a functional form of strength training as you work your muscles against gravity while also improving your stride length and frequency along with your overall coordination. To develop speed, run up short hills, emphasizing a high-knees running style while you pump your arms aggressively. Find a hill you can climb in about 30 seconds or less with a slope of 5 to 15 degrees. Run up the hill and walk down to complete one repetition, and perform eight to 10 reps. Sprinters should run shorter distances — about 50 yards — while distance runners should climb 150 to 200 yards.
Strengthening your running muscles — the quads, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors and core — can increase your speed. Perform exercises such as bodyweight squats, single-leg squats and deadlifts, planks, torso rotations, leg presses, body-weight dips and bench presses. Fitness author Wayne Westcott recommends doing 12 to 16 reps of each exercise. Use 60 to 70 percent of your one-rep max — the most weight you can lift one time — for weighted exercises. Perform two to three strength workouts weekly, but not on consecutive days. (refs 3, 5-7)
Plyometric exercises involve explosive movements to develop strength and improve your athletic performance. Activities such as box or hurdle jumps, lunge jumps and bounds can improve your speed. To perform forward bounds, for example, push off with your left foot as you extend your right leg forward, land on your right leg and immediately bound forward again, pushing off with your right foot while extending your left leg. Continue for 30 to 40 yards, and repeat the exercise two more times.