adidas / June 2019
By Darcy Norman, EXOS


Whether you’re training for a local tournament or heading to the most-watched field in the world to compete in the FIFA Women’s World Cup or the UEFA Champions League Final, preparation is equally important.

Preparation is the cornerstone of success at anything in sport and in life, and it’s about ensuring that you’ve done everything in your power to prepare for the road ahead. While you may encounter obstacles along the way, with the proper mindset, nutrition, training, and recovery strategies, you’ll have the skills you need to overcome them. Follow these simple steps to prepare, perfect, and perform at the top of your game.

Step 1: Craft a game plan.
One of the key parts of any successful player or team, especially while competing on the grueling World Cup schedule, is a solid mindset. This means understanding what you’re doing, finding the motivation to perform, and keeping your head in the game. A simple and effective way to kickstart a healthy mindset is with a plan. Having a solid plan will give you something to lean on when your mindset wavers. You can always trust your plan.

When preparing a team for the FIFA World Cup or the UEFA Champions League Final, coaches and trainers assess team and player injury status, current fitness, and abilities on the field. Once the coaches have a baseline understanding, they can begin to strengthen weak areas and enhance strong areas to support the philosophy of the team. Then they set a goal.

Every team, from the top seed to the bottom seed, has a goal. And each player has a goal, too. While the ultimate goal is always to take home the big trophy, the smaller goals along the way can serve as a guide to the main prize. As a team, this can be qualifying, beating a team you’ve never beat before, or advancing one stage further than in past competitions. For individuals, it can be anything from running faster or staying in the game longer to scoring more goals.

Step 2: Start moving.

With your plan in place, it’s time to execute. Teams would never make it to the FIFA Women’s World Cup level without world-class training. After evaluating the team and players and setting a goal, coaches have a good understanding of what it will take to strengthen game play and movement. From there it’s time to determine training days, how many times a day players will train, and what the training themes will be for each day or week leading to the big event. The idea here is to build on the success and lessons of the previous week.

For example, if a team has four weeks to prepare for a tournament, then they may break each week into a theme. The first week may focus on movement efficiency with more scheduled movement sessions to restore movement quality that may have been compromised by a long club season. To build on that work, the next week’s focus would be on strengthening the movement patterns they spent the past week improving. Week three would focus on power and applying the strength to speed. The final week would be integration of all that work on to the field of play to then integrate in the soccer sessions in preparation for the first competitive match.

Step 3: Power performance with nutrition.

A training plan is nothing without a solid nutrition plan to fuel it. While it seems the most obvious, it’s often one of the hardest parts of the plan to implement. The focus here is getting every player eating and drinking to perform their best. This is easier during training or travel, but can be tough when players are in their personal lives. Plus, not all players enjoy or tolerate foods the same so accommodations need to be made to ensure their needs are met.

Step 4: Protect your biggest asset – your body.

Recovery is the most important part of preparing for any big competition. FIFA World Cups have been won and lost on this aspect of preparation alone. While it’s easy to think that training is the cornerstone of performance, it’s the recovery that allows you to reap the true benefits of training. Too much training and not enough recovery can lead to mental and physical burnout. With the right recovery plan in place, players can rest, recharge, and perform at the pinnacle of their sport. This carries into competition as well, after each game and training session during the competition. It’s imperative to continue to use recovery strategies, especially as the games get tougher and the trophy is on the line.

adidas / June 2019
By Darcy Norman, EXOS