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It’s all well and good braving the cold conditions, but without the proper equipment, you’re not going to do a lot more than a bit of basic cardio. It’s not so much the weather you have to be concerned with when it comes to selecting winter-appropriate training equipment, it’s the light – or rather, the lack of it. High-visibility products are the order of the day then, so here are a few items not to be missed.
It’s the ball that makes training fun, so make sure you’ve got some decent ones to perk up those difficult winter sessions. Hi-vis colours are a must here. Red and yellow tend to be the best choices for showing up in all conditions, but most coloured balls – especially if they’re fluorescent – stand out more than a traditional white and black ball. Don’t forget the ball pump too; there’s nothing worse than turning up for training only to find you haven’t got a fully inflated ball.
Is it worth getting a new bag just for winter football? That depends what you’ve already got. First of all, winter conditions generally dictate that you carry more gear around with you, so you’re going to need a bag of decent size, ideally with separate compartments so you can keep your wet and muddy stuff as far away from your dry and clean stuff as possible. It’s also advisable to have some form of weather protection. Letting everything in your bag get soaked is a sure-fire way to ruin your gear, so look for strong materials, secure zips, and, ideally, something to keep the bag slightly off the ground, like the stud feet on the PUMA Pro Training II, for example.
Training without bibs in summer is tricky; training without bibs in winter is nigh on impossible. If you can’t differentiate between teammates and opposition players, practice matches quickly become a free-for-all. And let’s face it, no one’s going to want to go skins. Bibs, though, are the easy solution. They show up well in the dark, especially the brighter coloured ones, and aren’t hugely expensive. It’s worth investing in a few sets of different colours so you can conduct more complicated drills.
Setting boundaries is very important in training sessions – without them, you’re not training, you’re having a kickabout. Like everything else in winter, the most important thing is to be able to see them clearly, so, again, go for brightly coloured flags and cones wherever possible. Diamond Markers are an absolute must for setting up boxes, and there are a variety of types available, from the pointy Superdome to the self-explanatory Aeroflat Disc.
Dynamic movement is vital in the modern game. For forwards, those sharp cuts and turns are what help you beat your opponent, while for defenders, it’s your footwork that gets you in the right position to halt attacks. Agility drills should be a staple of any training programme then, and they’re especially valuable in winter to maintain blood circulation and keep your muscles loose. Obstacles like poles, hurdles, and ladders are all great options and can be combined to create more challenging drills.
Who can resist a neatly arranged mannequin wall? Not footballers, that’s for sure – everyone’s a freekick specialist, especially when they’re halfway through a gruelling winter training session. Quite apart from the fun aspect, though, mannequins allow you to practice all sorts of set-pieces, or set up a specific in-game situation that you want to work on. Particularly in winter, make sure you go for colours that will show up in the dark – running into a mannequin because you can’t see it is a painful way to end a session.
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