Outdoor training in rain, snow, cold and co

Whether Belek on the Turkish Riviera, Marbella on the Spanish Costa del Sol, Orlando in sunny Florida or Doha on the Persian Gulf – last winter our Bundesliga clubs were again scattered all over the world. Not a single club from the 1st or 2nd league took the liberty of escaping the German winter and moving south. But what about outdoor training when it gets colder in autumn, winter is slowly coming and you can’t even travel halfway around the world for a few units? We clarify.

Blue sky, bright sunshine – we are not always so lucky.

Nothing is impossible, but …

Basically, it should be said: Of course you can also train and play outside in the cold. It is not for nothing that the English always get along in their top leagues without a winter break, wrestling for points even on Christmas Day, the infamous Boxing Day. The name has the 26.12. in the United Kingdom not thanks to martial arts, but to the "Christmas Box" that employees get from their employers on this day – but of course you can also do the wrong training in the freezing temperatures, which will soon catch up with Germany again get a black eye quickly.

The dangers: hypothermia and increased risk of injury

According to sports doctor Wilfried Kindermann, outdoor sport in winter harbors two dangers in particular: excessive hypothermia and an increased risk of injury due to poor ground conditions. The official DFB rules booklet states: "Football should no longer be played at temperatures from minus 15 degrees, in strong winds from temperatures of minus 10 degrees." If the thermometer really slips that deep into the basement, special caution is required , The body can cool down and this weakens the immune system. We are more susceptible to infections. According to Tobias Cramer, the co-trainer at KSV Hessen Kassel, in the worst case, cardiac muscle inflammation can even occur at excessive stress – we want to avoid this if possible. If there is also a light breeze in the air, training outdoors is particularly dangerous due to the so-called wind chill effect. The headwind allows the athlete’s body to cool down more and more because more energy and warmth are required to evaporate sweat. According to the sports doctor Kindermann, special caution is also required for athletes who participate respiratory diseases suffer, commanded: Here the cold can quickly trigger a kind of exertional asthma – here too applies: be extremely careful.

Tips and tricks for outdoor training

If the weather app does not show any ice age-like temperatures after getting up, regular training is definitely an option; provided that you observe a few minor tips and tricks. In the rules of the Bundesliga team it goes on: "In extreme cold, the referee must take care of the appropriate clothing for those involved." "Dress warm, it’s cold outside!" Mutti preached even then – and was not wrong! Of course, it doesn’t have to be a snowsuit and a pair of winter boots for the athlete, but he also has a few things to consider during outdoor training.

The right clothes do it

Before it even goes out, the choice of the right clothing should be well thought out. First of all, cotton clothing should be avoided if possible. It does not remove the sweat properly, the cotton shirt sticks to the body and we cool down faster – and we wanted to avoid that.
Functional clothing that is breathable and at best temperature-regulating is almost a must for athletes in winter. That doesn’t mean that you have to run around the corner in the next sports shop to equip the team with the latest functional shirts – because the most important thing is that the clothes are worn correctly.

Even with a jacket you can train reasonably in autumn and winter.

The so-called onion skin principle has proven itself in almost every area of ​​outdoor sports. And this is how it works: Simply put on several thin layers on top of each other, which you can then take off bit by bit during training once the body has warmed up. You shouldn’t freeze properly before exercising, a little shiver is okay before the first few meters and is even recommended.
According to Bernd Keindl from SC Willingen, the head is particularly sensitive to cold, but our limbs are also very susceptible. While our body temperature is constantly regulated around 37 degrees Celsius inside the trunk and head, it decreases towards the extremities and varies depending on the outside temperature. The athlete should be on the hands, feet and head with the choice pay special attention to his clothing. Even if it can be a hindrance when it comes to headers: a hat or at least a headband should be in every sports bag, because the body loses 60 percent of its body heat through the head. There are special gloves for the hands that better transport the sweat to the outside and thus protect us from hypothermia. A pair of thicker socks should also be chosen carefully to cover the particularly sensitive Achilles tendon. On top of that, a scarf can be tied around the neck and face. This helps us on the face by relieving the bronchial tubes, which are particularly irritated by the cold air.

The breath trick

Which brings us to the next important point: breathing. The cold constricts our bronchi and the air we breathe in allows us to store less moisture there, which in turn irritates the mucous membranes. To protect his lungs as much as possible, the following general rule of thumb applies: inhale deeply through the nose, exhale through the mouth. As a result, the inhaled air is moistened by our nasal mucosa and warmed to the lungs on a longer path, while the airways connected to the mouth are warmed when exhaling. Of course, this rule cannot be followed for every session, but thinking about this tip in a quiet minute is extremely easy on your lungs!

More important than ever: a balanced warm-up

Always important, and even more so when it’s cold: warming up.

The right clothing for our outdoor unit has been chosen and we now know how we should breathe. Can it finally start now? Not quite yet. In the cold winter months, warm-up training is much more important than usual. The colder it is, the slower our bodies are. As a result, it also takes longer in the cold to warm up. As a cold start is known to increase the risk of injury in the muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints involved many times over, a lot of time should be invested in the warm-up in winter.

If you just start running in freezing temperatures, it can easily lead to muscle hardening or even fiber tears. An effective warm-up, on the other hand, increases the heart and respiratory rate as well as the blood flow to the muscles and reduces the risk of injury. So take a few minutes more time in winter to reach temperatures. You are best prepared if you do some internal stretching before you start training. According to Dr. Tanja Nauck and Dr. Lothar Böckler from the Sports Medicine Institute Frankfurt am Main doing gently stretching the large muscle groups, especially in the legs before running training. Before you start running, you should at least circle your hips and mobilize your ankles and knees.

Choose exercises wisely

Even with the selection Your training plan should always keep the weather conditions in mind. Because in icy temperatures it is particularly important for the athlete to keep moving outdoors. On particularly cold days, tactical training, in which the trainer does a lot and the players have to watch for a long time, may be less recommendable. If the athlete cannot keep warm over the duration of the training, the risk of injury increases again – and that is exactly what must be avoided. So, on some days, simple running training may do better than replaying video analysis on the pitch. In contrast to the added time of a game, the athlete should never make the mistake at the end of the training session of getting everything out of himself and ending the training at the peak of the load. Since our muscles cool down particularly quickly in winter, any contraction residues can possibly cause muscle tension or even worse injuries. Instead, a small run should take place at the end of the training, after which the athlete can quickly disappear into the catacombs and warm up there. It is then a matter of getting rid of your carefully selected clothing and protecting your body as best as possible. The expert describes the half hour after the training as an "open window", in which our immune system is considered to be particularly vulnerable and susceptible to colds and infections. A few years ago, the former biathlete Magdalena Neuner showed that this effect is not a scaremongering, but actually occurs in practice. As the final runner, Neuner won gold in the relay competition for the Germans at the 2011 World Cup in Russia after an incredible final sprint. After the race, the Bavarian athlete admitted: "I screamed while running because it hurt so much". Six days later, Neuner had to cancel a crucial competition for a cold at the World Cup final in Oslo. A severe cough and runny nose prevented her from participating in the chase race and wiped out her last chance for overall victory.
A little health tip on the side: Just because there are no more water bottles on the edge of the field in winter does not mean that the body does not need the liquid even in the cold months. A regular water supply is essential even in winter.

The place determines the unity

But as Adi Preißler used to say: "Gray is‘ all theory – it is crucial ’on the court!". Even if everything around the events is now wonderfully organized, there is nothing the athlete can do about one thing at the end of the day: the space conditions. Not every club can serve with the perfect artificial turf or even a lawn heater and so our training ultimately remains dependent on the conditions on the green. In this case, flexibility is the trump card for the trainer – he must be able to adapt his training to the respective ground conditions.

Always have an eye for your space! Because they determine what works – and what doesn’t.

Klaus Schwarten from the “Mein Fußball’ ”editorial team at the DFB has a few small tricks to get a decent training even under unpopular conditions:
If the groundsman has dug up the neon-colored balls, then the space is probably covered by a wide blanket of snow. Anyone who has ever stood on the pitch in these conditions knows that the ball rarely rolls exactly where you would have liked to see it. In this case, there are exercises that are supposed to improve the technique of the players. For example, volleyball and flying ball games can be practiced specifically. And if the whole square is really covered with snow, don’t forget: football should also be fun. And let’s be honest: Who didn’t enjoy kicking in the snow the most in childhood??

Suitable exercises can be found even if only a small area of ​​the course is available for training because the snow is thawing and the course is not yet fully playable. A variant would be to try out different four-against-four situations in a confined space.
For mixed ratios in which the course is partly soft and partly still frozen, station training is an option. Simply assign the appropriate stations to the corresponding ground conditions and you can start training!
If the ground is really frozen, extreme caution is required when training in the fresh air. In order not to take any risks, the best thing to do is to avoid duels and therefore no physical contact during training. However, you can still train with frost on the ground. Variants can be endurance courses or a relaxed round of football tennis.
On some days, however, none of this helps, and the space remains closed in winter. If you don’t want to miss the training entirely, there are of course alternatives. If the athletes follow the tips and tricks to prepare for training outdoors, there is nothing to be said against a round of running training. In order to keep the runners happy, vary the running speed. If the players have had enough of the unloved running training, there is no getting around the hallway inside. If the hall is free, it is naturally a good idea to train there. Dr. warns in the hall Josef Schmit, doctor of the German national team, however, before that the hard floor increases the strain on the ankles and back and thigh muscles a lot. Going into the hall is a good alternative for the winter, but always to be enjoyed with caution. If it’s something completely new, why not visit the local soccer hall, the swimming pool or the spinning course in the gym – there are no limits to the creativity of the trainer in an emergency.

Be well prepared, flexible and creative!

Even if the Bundesliga teams flee from the temperatures in winter, this does not mean that there is no training on German soil in winter. As long as it is not excessively cold outside, with good preparation, some creativity and flexibility in creating a training plan as an athlete, you can train in the fresh air even in winter.


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Christina Cherry
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