The Canadian University Soccer season is here, and this year marks my 3rd season as Assistant Coach and Fitness Coach with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks Women’s Varsity Soccer Team. This season, I will be blogging every day with a ‘Tip of the Day’ – a small piece of information about the testing, training, monitoring, or performance analysis I am doing with the team.
Today’s Tip of the Day has to do with sleep. Pre-season (which starts for us tomorrow) means a significant increase in the energy expenditure of university players who are finishing with their summer soccer seasons. Training camps like ours typically last for 2-3 weeks, and involve 2 training sessions per day, 2-3 games per week, plus classroom sessions, fitness sessions, recovery sessions, and of course the daily life stressors of going back to school! For Varsity soccer players, all of these factors serve to highlight the importance of getting a good night’s sleep.
Several studies done on soccer players, as well as athletes from other sports, have indicated that athletes who do not get at least 7 hours of sleep per day can experience a range of physical and physiological problems, including increased resting heart rate, loss of appetite, decreased muscle strength and power, decreased time to exhaustion on endurance tests (lower aerobic performance), and increased recovery time for muscle soreness and injuries. Even athletes who have been shown to have “perceived tiredness” – that is – they think they are not getting enough sleep and/or report feeling “tired” – can experience some of these negative consequences. The end result of a lack of sleep in simple terms is simple: decreased performance and high chance of injury.
The solution to these problems for university athletes beginning pre-season is two-fold:
- Make sure you are getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and make sure those hours occur between 10pm and 8am.
- Make time to take a nap (30-60 minutes maximum) in the middle of the day (preferably between the two daily training sessions).
I will be sharing these recommendations with our players starting tomorrow. Other university coaches and fitness coaches should do the same!
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. Drop me a line here to get the conversation started.