Peace, Mind, and Football
Implementing Yoga and Meditation
The uncertainties caused by COVID-19 have brought individual physical and mental wellbeing more into the spotlight. During this time, practicing yoga and meditation has been one way many people have addressed uncertainties, to improve overall health.
At ICEF, the football training program is based on the fundamentals of European excellence, following the world-renowned UEFA and FFF methodologies, combined with innovative techniques to increase performance. As part of these innovative techniques, we have welcomed an expert in yoga and meditation to the staff, as a component of the holistic pro player development implemented at the ICEF.
The primary physical benefits of yoga are increase in flexibility, injury prevention, and muscle recovery.
Practicing yoga allows players to use muscles they do not usually use while playing football and while going through their normal stretching routines. The yoga positions and movements they practice at ICEF allow them to gain flexibility in areas which will allow them to prevent certain injuries, as their bodies become more accustomed to the specific movements and strain in those muscle areas. Most muscle injuries in football happen due to muscles stretching past their limits. Players with greater flexibility have a lower probability to get injured when performing certain movement, as they have trained their bodies to exert that flexibility.
Recovery is a key physical benefit for footballers that can come from yoga. Being able to relax and stretch the body properly aids deep recovery from muscle fatigue and trauma caused by training. David Silva has praised the benefits of yoga for facilitating his recovery and preparation during nonstop games throughout the gruelling English Premier League season. “With so many games you have to play nonstop and anything you can find [yoga] which helps you prepare for these games is good… it helped me stretch out after games and helped me get back in shape.” (Sky Sports)
At the ICEF, we prepare and develop players to be successful on and off the pitch. Yoga and meditation sessions have mental benefits that help players in their training sessions and competitions and supports their ability to also perform academically and in other daily tasks. Some of these mental benefits include stress management, mental preparation and the formation of a right mindset.
Yoga and meditation help players with daily challenges that can come about from stress due to time management as a result of their pro player regimen which includes an elite training schedule and a rigorous academic curriculum. Meditation sessions aim to teach our players how to control their breathing and their thought processes, to be calm and be able to think through what they need to achieve with a clear mind. Former Arsenal defender, Per Mertesacker, was able to refresh his mental focus after winning the World Cup with Germany. “The benefits are physical and mental, to strengthen my body, to stretch my body, and mentally to relax and calm down.”
At such a crucial point in their lives, it is important that our players have a clear mind to make the best educated decisions and so they are mentally prepared for the challenges they currently face and will face in the future.
Highly Positive Feedback: Thoughts from our coaches and players
The coaches at the ICEF have seen the results and benefits from yoga and meditation sessions. The days following yoga and meditation sessions, they noted that players are able to participate in more intense training sessions, which could be attributed to the muscle and mind recovery from previous training sessions.
Players have found the sessions extremely helpful and enjoyable, and some have even asked to increase the number of yoga and meditation sessions. The majority of players felt calmer and have felt less muscle fatigue after these sessions. With an expert in yoga and meditation onboard the staff, the ICEF is confident these sessions will have a very positive impact on our players and their performance on the field and in the classroom.