With their opening July 25 win against France, the U.S. women's soccer team has everyone's attention as they begin their quest for 2012 gold. Many news outlets and soccer blogs have already named them the favorite in the London Olympic games, despite the team's struggles in recent years.
While it remains to be seen whether the women's team will claim victory in London, the U.S. team has great advice for young soccer players on how they can make their exercise routines gold medal-worthy.
A number of players shared their fitness tips with Women's Health magazine last year, and the overarching theme was: off the field, as much low-impact, cross-fitness training as possible. Whether it's CrossFit, which Christie Rampone prefers, swimming and hiking for Amy Rodriguez or biking and practicing yoga for Becky Sauerbrunn, the women take every avenue to maintain their athleticism.
On the coaching end, for schools with the budget, Heather O'Reilly, a midfielder for the team, revealed the technologies that have improved the Olympic team's precision and unity on her New York Times blog. The women wear both heart and GPS monitors during practices, which provide vital information on players' activity. Their coaches use the data collected to craft workouts that suit their athletes' fitness levels, investigate inconsistencies on the field and evaluate each individual's strengths.
For those without fancy soccer coaching equipment, O'Reilly reassures readers: "At the end of the day, soccer is still a pure game. People are playing this beautiful game without shoes on, in dirt fields all across the globe."
Free of charge, coaches can take a page from head coach Pia Sundhage's book, who sings rock anthems to her team to get them motivated. A little Journey, anyone?