dressing for the cold

In Colorado, the Fall is typically a pretty nice time to play soccer. The Spring tends to be very cold and even miserable at some points. I generally won’t cancel practice for weather unless it’s extremely cold, there’s more than a little snow on the ground, or it’ll just otherwise be unproductive. Below are some lessons learned from coaching teams in Colorado over the years. I’ll say it a few times below…but gloves are key!

chance favors the prepared…

Late Fall and Spring in Colorado are challenging seasons for soccer. While the Fall weather is unpredictable, I think Spring is the coldest season. Here are some suggestions I have for dressing for practice and games:

Generally speaking, you should be warm before a game or practice, dressed in a couple of removable layers. As we transition into the warmup phase of a game or practice, it’s ok to feel a little on the cold side. This will quickly change as we go through our warmups and start running in the game. If you’re cold in a game, you’re not working hard enough.

1) Base Layer (in black, white, or red) – This won’t be able to be removed. Something like a long sleeve under armor (or other brand) that sits close to the skin and wicks away moisture. Cotton is the worst possible base layer since it traps moisture and keeps it against the skin.

2) Soccer Jersey

3) Sliders under the Uniform Shorts (these work as a base layer and take some sting out of the ball hitting the upper leg). If it’s extremely cold (they’ll cancel the game) but cold, cold, you can wear black tights underneath your uniform. The have to be black or match the uniform according to the laws of the game. You can’t wear warmup pants over your uniform according to the rules (doesn’t mean you won’t see anyone doing it, but that depends on the ref. Do it the right way and you’ll stay warm irrespective of the ref).

4) Socks and shin guards – If you want to wear a set of thin sock liners (much like base layers for feet) under your socks that might help keep your feet warm and dry on cold days. You can also pull your socks up over your knees for a little extra protection. Unhappy feet make for unhappy and ineffective soccer players.

5) Cleats for the game, warm boots/shoes to change into before and after the game or practice. You need to make sure your cleats still fit comfortably with everything on.

6) Gloves (the single most import piece of cold weather gear) – They should be black. They’re going to get dirty. They should be kept in your soccer bag AT ALL TIMES. I use thin running gloves you can pick up at any sporting good store. Wool and fleece gloves work great as well. I can’t reiterate enough how much of a difference gloves make to keeping warm out on the field. If I had a choice between a jacket and gloves, I’d pick a good set of gloves. Playing with cold hands is so uncomfortable I actually keep a pair in my car and two or three sets of different weights in my bag. It’s a big deal.

7) Warm-ups (jacket and pants if you’ve bought them) A fleece or hoodie works well too, but it would be nice to look like a team (this actually applies to the competitive team and isn’t such a big deal for intermediate). The idea is to have a removable layer that keeps you warm before, after, and when you’re waiting to be subbed. I would keep this in my soccer bag at all times as well.

8) Shell layer – typically a waterproof, windproof out layer. We’ll play in the rain, we’ll play in sleet, we’ll play in snow as long as the lines on the field can be seen. This helps before, after, and on the sidelines waiting to go into the game.

9) A warm hat. I like fleece or wool. Can’t wear it on the field, pre/post game, and on the sidelines it makes a huge difference.  I keep this in my bag as well. During practices you can get away with wearing it. Usually during practices I’ll just wear shorts, jersey, hat, and gloves and I stay pretty comfortable. Another option is a fleece headband that covers the ears. This the girls typically can wear on the field.

Let me say again, that the most important piece of cold weather gear are the gloves. Get a good, un-bulky pair made for sports and the girls will be sooo much more comfortable on cold days. They should keep the gloves with them at all times.

For those new to the area, the Fall Season is the nice season. Generally the weather is pretty good, but like this weekend, we can have a cold snap. The Spring Season (which kicks of in Feb sometime) is the really miserably cold season. Being prepared now will help us deal with any surprises and help us be prepared for the Spring.

In Europe they play all the way through the winter. Watch games and you’ll see players in shorts, jerseys and with gloves.

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