Soccer is an incredibly demanding sport which requires players to be in tip-top shape for optimal performance. Great soccer players do more than just train by playing one game, though. Other sports can help soccer players become better by helping to focus their skill development.
Because soccer demands so much and is so multi-faceted, narrowing down the skills you want to develop and then finding other sports or activities that hone them can really improve your performance on the soccer field!
Here are a few sports that soccer players should try out.
We talked about how much tennis players can get out of playing soccer in this article, but it also works in the opposite direction.
Soccer players can practice changing directions quickly and anticipating the movement of the ball. No, you’re not using your feet to move the ball across the court, but the sport can still improve your ability to track the ball and anticipate trajectories.
Also, reading your opponent is a big part of tennis. In soccer, you only really get to do that in a penalty kick situation. Staring down your opponent and anticipating their reaction is something you do all the time in tennis.
Basketball is one of the largest North American sports, so much so that it’s unlikely that you’ll see a school gym or park without a basketball court. But while the sport may look very different from soccer, some shared principles could, with practice, really improve your soccer skills.
A large part of basketball is simply moving the ball down the court. This requires fancy footwork, slick moves, and most importantly, passing. Even though you pass with your hands and not your feet, it’s the same idea. You want to look for your opening, react to it quickly, and outsmart your opponent—just like playing soccer.
Volleyball is a fast-paced game with a much smaller play area than soccer, but it can still work on key parts of your soccer game.
Much of volleyball is spent in the air, jumping up as high as possible to block or reach high-flying balls. Jumping and diving for the ball can help you drill down on your vertical game if you find yourself being beaten out at the net reaching for those corner kicks.
And playing beach volleyball is great for the legs—the sand is perfect for resistance training!
Swimming might not directly help with your soccer skills, but it is an excellent activity for developing strength and endurance.
The resistance provided by the water can work your muscles to the limit faster and more effectively than on land. Swimming will improve your overall strength to help add power to your kicks, speed to your sprints, and stamina to those long run-downs.
If none of the sports above is your cup of tea, any sport you choose could have some component that is useful for soccer. It’s just such a physically demanding sport that whatever skill you decide to focus on can make a significant impact on your level of play.
The takeaway is not to pigeon-hole yourself to only playing one sport. Being well-rounded is important in sports as well as life!
While it does not quite yet enjoy the global support of soccer, basketball still ranks high amongst the most widely played sports. More than 450 million people worldwide regularly enjoy hitting the court on either an amateur or professional level.
In addition to having few rules and requiring little in the way of equipment, basketball also offers participants a number of wonderful health benefits.
A 30-minute game of basketball does wonders for those looking to lose weight. Depending on a player’s weight and the intensity of a game, participants can burn a decent number of calories.
Fitness for Weight Loss reports that a 150-pound individual can lose 160 calories shooting baskets, 215 calories playing recreational basketball, and a whopping 285 calories each half hour of participating in a competitive game.
Total body weight actually increases a person’s calorie burning capacity, so this is a sport that will profit many different body sizes. Burning more calories than you take in is the key to weight loss and basketball is a fun and challenging way to do that.
Muscle and Bone
You are constantly on the move in basketball and that really helps to build the muscles in your legs. Dribbling helps with arm strength, as do chest passes. Core strength also increases when performing these activities, while jump shots help to improve leg strength.
All of that running and jumping is also very good for promoting bone health. As we age, our bones weaken, making us more likely to suffer a break from a fall. Physical activity helps to prevent this by causing the body to maintain or even generate new bone tissue. A healthy bone is a strong bone, and those who keep that in mind remain safer and more mobile in their later years.
All that physical activity can really increase your endurance and that makes it easier to enjoy all manner of physical pursuits. Cardio exercises increase the health of your heart and blood vessels. That helps to stave off heart disease and related ailments that can drastically shorten a person’s lifespan.
The intensity of a basketball game can vary depending on the type and the participants; if you are playing at a pace that gets you to around 50-75% of your maximum heart rate; it qualifies as a solid cardio workout.
Players must dribble, dodge and fake out opponents, watch for teammates to pass to, and aim their shots with precision. There is a lot going on in basketball and a competitor must be aware of their surroundings, the other players, and the ball at all times. This is not like baseball, where a centerfielder may spend most of the game standing around in the outfield—you don’t wait for the ball to come to you in basketball! Play this sport regularly and you will find your spatial awareness improving quite noticeably.
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