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Struggling to create goalscoring opportunities against defensive teams? West Ham United's academy director, Tony Carr, has the solution to your frustrations.

The youth team guru believes the secret to opening up an impenetrable back four is switching the play and getting opposition defenders to leave their posts.

Coaching the Nike Academy, Carr set up this drill to show you how to open up the pitch and exploit space in behind a packed defence.

"You want to try and catch the opposition off guard by dragging them over to one side of the pitch, where we can quickly change the play to the other side of the pitch to exploit the space," Carr explained to FFT.

"It needs to be done quickly, it needs to be done sharply. Once we've got the ball into that wide position, we're asking the wide player to cross the ball as early as possible for the two strikers waiting in the middle." 


HYDRATION (SOURCE)

Overview

Dehydration is any athlete’s worst enemy. The Nike Academy’s sports science team share theirs tips on fuelling your body with fluid.
HYDRATION TIPS: I. Start your day by drinking at least one large glass of water. Your hydration levels are lowest when you wake up as you haven’t been drinking or eating for 8 hours. Rehydrating yourself should be a key part of your breakfast routine.
  II. Drink at least 2-4 litres of fluid per day. It’s the most important rule to follow. Carry your water bottle with you at all times, whether you’re training, travelling or out and about.
  III. During games, drink between 300-800ml per hour. Stick to water and dedicated electrolyte sports drinks during exercise.
  IV. At the same time, make sure you don’t drink too much at once before games or training – it can make you uncomfortable.
  V. Monitor the colour of your urine after games and training to determine your hydration level. If it’s any darker than near-transparent yellow, you should be drinking more.
  VI. Alternatively, weigh yourself before and after games and training. Every kilogram you’ve lost equals one litre of liquid. Top up to reach your usual weight.
  VII. After the game, treat yourself to a milk-based recovery drink or a fruit smoothie.
  VIII. Generally, fruit juice and similar drinks are too sugary. If you want to make your drink sweeter, go for squash.
  IX. Keep the consumption of caffeine based drinks like coffee and tea as well as fizzy drinks as low as possible. They undermine your hydration levels.
ACADEMY LEARNING: You may not feel the effects of not drinking plenty straight away. Don’t let others notice it from your performance – stay hydrated at all times.

 

SUBS PSYCHOLOGY: (SOURCE)

Overview

Added 06.13.12

Being on the bench is never easy. Nike Academy Sports Psychologist Jane Dodd explains how to make it work and force your way into the starting 11.
SUMMARY: I. Once you find out you won’t be starting, put it behind you. This isn’t the time to wonder why or sulk. Concentrate on what you need to do for the team. Remember you can be called on at any time. So you need to be ready to make a change as soon as you come on to the pitch.
  II. On the bench, pay attention to discover weaknesses in the other team. Use this knowledge to your best advantage. Don’t get distracted by anything or anyone.
  III. While warming up, you should keep yourself totally focused on you. Keep your mind completely clear. Pay no attention to what or who is around you. No distractions. You are aware of nothing except making a difference when you come on.
  IV. It’s all about knowing you can and will make an impact. Self-belief is very important. Believing in your ability enables you to get into the right mind-frame quickly. Work on your self-belief and confidence regularly throughout the season to be prepared.
  V. When you feel like you’re only playing a bit part, you have to realise that this is just as important as playing 90 minutes. You can come on and score the winning goal or make the game safe so the team wins.
  VI. It’s always about standing out in a game. Being a sub can make you stand out. More importantly, however small the opportunity feels, you have the chance to prove you are worthy of a start in the next game.
ACADEMY LEARNING: There’s always something to play for in every game. Never waste an opportunity. Only by impressing your coach with the right attitude will you stand a chance of breaking into the starting 11.

STRIKER PSYCHOLOGIST(SOURCE)

Overview

Scoring goals starts from your mind. Nike Academy Sports Psychologist Jane Dodd shares her mental preparation techniques.
JANE’S ADVICE: USE VISUALISATION
The best time for this is at night, just as you’re drifting off to sleep. Your mind should be at its most relaxed. Think about the goals you’ve scored and visualise the goals you want to score.

Take visualisation into training in small-sided games. As you play, visualise the ball finding the net every time you shoot. Work on visualisation during the week and you should just visualise in a game without even trying.
  FOCUS ON POSITIVES
Feeling confident and believing in yourself is about taking control of your game. You’re the one with the talent – just show it. Focus on the good parts of your game. It’ll make you want more.

You’ll easily remember the negatives, but it’s the positives you want to bring to your game. Learn from the negatives and forget them. Build on the positives and remember them.
  MAKE THE GAME YOURS
Sharpen your focus while you’re waiting for kick-off. Don’t worry about questions you cannot answer. While waiting, look straight ahead and focus on one thought, for example: “Take ownership of the game, make it yours.” Ownership is a good word. When you have the ball, it’s yours. When you take a shot on goal, it’s only going one way.
  ENCOURAGE YOUR TEAM MATES
It’s important to take belief onto the pitch as an individual as well as a team. A team is only as strong as the individuals.  Focus on yourself first – you’ll be even stronger to encourage and support your teammates, especially on the pitch.

If you feel strong and confident, so will everyone around you. Confidence breeds confidence. Never focus on the negatives while playing. Always focus on the positives. Encourage teammates even after a mistake.
ACADEMY LEARNING: Winning on the pitch starts with winning in the mind. Going to the pitch fully focused and with the right attitude can change your game. Work on building up your confidence every day and you’ll get more out of the game.

MATCH DAY NUTRITION: (SOURCE)

Overview

Food choices can give your game the edge. Nike Academy Fitness Coach Jon Goodman shows how to get match-day nutrition right.
Eating Plan: 8.30am Breakfast: Glass of water, cereal and milk.

12pm Pre-match meal: 0.5 litre of water, chicken and vegetable stir-fry, fruit and yoghurt.

3pm Match: 0.5 litre of water, 0.5 litre of sports drink, banana, cereal bar.

5pm After final whistle: Protein-based recovery shake, banana, 0.5 litre of water.

7pm Post-match meal: 0.5 litre of water, chicken and vegetable curry with rice, fruit smoothie with extra protein.
Jon’s tips: I. Eat 2 to 4 hours before kick-off. A pre-match meal should consist of low GI (Glycaemic Index) carbohydrates (such as brown rice or sweet potatoes) with protein. Chicken stir-fry is ideal.

II. Drink at least 2 litres of fluid per day. On top of this, drink between 300-800ml per hour during matches. It’s best to stick to water and dedicated sports drinks during exercise.

III. It may be common, but snacking on sugary sweets at half-time isn’t necessarily beneficial. Dedicated electrolyte drinks are ideal as they re-hydrate you. They also provide a fast release of sugar. It will help concentration and preserve blood sugar levels.

IV. After the match, players need a high GI carbohydrate meal (for example white rice, bagels, watermelon, mashed potatoes) with some protein. A dedicated recovery shake containing whey protein would be ideal. You can also make a fruit smoothie with yoghurt.

V. Treats should be just that. Follow the 80:20 rule to allow one treat per week. At the same time, players should eat at least 4-6 different fruit portions and 2-3 different vegetable portions each day.
Academy Learning: Performance athletes leave nothing to chance. Failing to prepare is effectively preparing to fail.