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Playing In Cold Weather

Playing in cold weather has a unique set of circumstances.  To properly prepare, a player should understand what cold does to the body and how their unique physiology reacts to the game/practice circumstances.


  • Keeping warm and keeping muscles stretched can be a challenge
  •  Always start with a light activity before stretching
  • Dynamic stretching (exercises that stretch muscles in the course of other activities) may be more effective than static stretching
  • Static stretching should be performed in short increments separated with activities to keep the body moving
  • Keep stretching throughout the activity – cold muscles tighten up quickly, so any resting activity should include some stretching
  • See Coaching Tips for additional information
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  • Dress in layers; from the skin out:
    • Compression garments
    • Kit
    • Warm-ups/Sweats
    • Gloves
    • Jacket/Outerwear
  • Removing layers
    • Keep the warm-ups on until the body is almost sweating
    • Keep the core/trunk of the body warm, so pants go before tops
    • At least put the warm-up jacket back on at each rest period longer than a few minutes; the body cools quickly
  • Good additions
    • Beanies/knit caps are a great way to add heat; the head loses more heat that any other part of the body, especially for short hair or pony tails
    • Gloves can make a big difference; keep the extremities warm and the whole body is more comfortable
    • Additional socks – in wet weather, replacing wet socks for dry at half-time or at a break can make a world of difference in a players comfort
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Specific Conditions

  • Wet weather
    • Wear the appropriate boots for the conditions, soft ground cleats make a big difference on a wet, muddy field
    • Remember to remove mud from the cleats at stoppages or breaks
    • A jacket and hat that shed water will make a big difference
    • Microfiber moisture wicking materials will dry faster and keep sweat off the body
    • Replace wet gear with dry when possible, but always keep something dry for the ride home
  • Frost
    • Wear the appropriate boots for the conditions, FG/HG cleats make a big difference on a field as hard as concrete
    • Keep the hat and gloves on even when the body starts to warm up, it protects the skin from frostbite
    • Plan ahead for the entire practice/game, not just the first few minutes; better to be uncomfortable for a short time and healthy afterwards
    • Better to be smart (in what you wear) than to look good
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  • It is at least as important to cool down slowly in cold conditions as it is in the heat
  • Dynamic stretching and light activity will help in recovery
  • Put layers back on before you think they are needed
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  • Always drink before you are thirsty
  • Drink warm water to add heat, overly hot drinks will cause the body to rollercoaster
  • Avoid drinks like Hot Chocolate and Coffee, the sugar and caffeine will only hide problems
  • Remember that your clothes are soaking up sweat, so you need more fluid than you think
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Last updated: 07/15/2011.