Football

The weather plays a huge part in performances for a footballer and their team. Depending on whether they must deal with high levels of heat, low temperatures, strong winds, or heavy rain, they will have to adjust their tactics accordingly.

In addition, footballers will also have to take extra care of their bodies, to ensure they can remain at peak performance, regardless of what the weather throws at them.

Weather

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Heat and humidity

To avoid the heat of the Qatar summer, the 2022 World Cup is being held in November and December that year. While avoiding the searing +40°C Qatari summer months, winter temperatures can still reach up to 30°C – for comparison, the current hottest World Cup to date, Italy 1990, had average temperatures standing at 30.5°C. Players will need to get plenty of training in ahead of Qatar, if they want to compete effectively in the heat.

FIFA have processes in place for extreme heat, though, as mandatory drinks breaks were introduced during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil to avoid heat related injuries and illness as the temperatures rocketed.

In hot weather, muscles and skin compete for oxygen via the blood supply. The body has a reduced ability to decrease and maintain its temperature, and heat is lost through sweat evaporation. Quadriceps, muscles in the upper leg, are particularly susceptible to higher muscle temperatures when playing football in hot conditions.

When the core body temperature is raised, exercise capacity is reduced. Research has shown that footballers with better training cope better with higher core temperatures, compared to those who aren’t, showing the importance of conditioning training.

High heat and humidity results in the limitation of maximal intensity exercise, with a player’s distance and high intensity activity decreasing. It was found that at a temperature of 43°C, male footballers’ distances are reduced by 26%, compared to in a temperature of 21°C. Match-play characteristics such as turnovers, possession, and technical skill execution are all affected by heat and humidity.

When it comes to playing in hot conditions – whether it’s an international tournament or a friendly match - footballers should try to cool down before and during games to keep their performance from suffering.

Rain

With the next instalment of the Euros, matches played in London, Glasgow, Dublin and Amsterdam are likely to see rainfall, with each city having an average of 8-10 days of rain in June. For teams playing in these cities, they’ll need to be prepared.

Even if the temperatures aren’t cold, playing football in the rain can cause footballers’ body temperatures to drop, as their kit gets wet. Changing clothes at half time is crucial to keeping body temperatures up – this includes a jersey, shorts and socks; wet socks slow players down, as they’re heavier.

The rain makes the pitch slippery, causing the ball to slide and move faster. However, long periods of heavy rain can result in flooding, slowing the ball and disrupting passes. Footballers must adjust the way they play, for example, making lighter touches on the ball.

While some matches may be called off because of the rain, for Premier League and Championship teams, this is rarely the case, as they’ve invested in the facilities to cope with adverse weather conditions, such as draining systems.

The same can’t be said in Kazakhstan, where an unknown league match has taken the crown for wettest pitch. The pitch was so flooded, players were immersed in ankle-deep water, and the ball kept floating away!

Wind

While strong winds may not be as big an issue for footballers when compared to high heat and humidity levels, it can still be very distracting and affect their performance.

If the wind is too strong, then the worst-case scenario is matches get called off – like the 2014 game between Crystal Palace v Everton, which was postponed as storms swept across the country, or more recently the Manchester City vs West Ham game which was postponed after Storm Ciara registered wind speeds of up to 80mph across the UK.

In fact, wind can make it hard for teams to play technically and tactically. Tactics must be adjusted depending whether teams are playing into the wind, or with the wind behind them. Strategies become a lot simpler too, as the technical moves often can’t be pulled off, and long passes are advised against.

Playing with the wind is the ideal choice, as it can help teams with goal kicks and corner kicks, and it’s easier to move the ball down the field. Plus, having your back to the wind means that players can conserve their energy levels, as exercise isn’t as difficult. With wind direction able to change extremely quickly, players take advantage of playing with the wind as much as possible.

Former Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard was especially grateful for the wind in a 2012 Premier League game against Bolton Wanderers, when a clearance from his own box caught a gust and bounced over the stranded Adam Bogdan into the opposition goal from 92 yards away!

Freezing temperatures

Western European teams often approach fixtures in Ukraine and Russia with apprehension, as they’re typically faced with icy conditions. However, one of the coldest matches to be played was actually a Europa League match hosted in Norway, between Rosenborg and Bayer Leverkusen in 2010, when temperatures dipped to a freezing -15°C.

Even England’s elite football clubs can fall victim to a winter chill, and the 2009/10 Premier League season saw just this. With seven fixtures postponed in one day over the festive period, the league was forced to rearrange around the already busy schedule. Across the entire Football League, 83 fixtures were abandoned because of wintry conditions.

When faced with cold temperatures, the body tries to maintain homeostasis, with the normal body temperature around 37°C. When the temperature drops during the end of season, footballers’ bodies will adopt certain mechanisms such as shivering, to keep warm.

This is referred to as a ‘fight over blood supply’. Active muscles need an increased blood supply, but when it’s cold, the blood flows away from the skin to protect the body’s core; and this results in an increase of energy requirements.

Cold temperatures can also cause dehydration, with water loss coming from both sweat and breathing.

Exercising in the cold results in more physiologically stressful conditions. As such, footballers will experience colder muscles that are less efficient, muscle contractions, and slower body reactions.

With muscles becoming stiffer throughout the game, if blood flow and nutrients aren’t delivered to the area quickly, then muscles don’t have the energy required to do their work, which increases their chances of being torn or strained.

Close

Heat and humidity

To avoid the heat of the Qatar summer, the 2022 World Cup is being held in November and December that year. While avoiding the searing +40°C Qatari summer months, winter temperatures can still reach up to 30°C – for comparison, the current hottest World Cup to date, Italy 1990, had average temperatures standing at 30.5°C. Players will need to get plenty of training in ahead of Qatar, if they want to compete effectively in the heat.

FIFA have processes in place for extreme heat, though, as mandatory drinks breaks were introduced during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil to avoid heat related injuries and illness as the temperatures rocketed.

In hot weather, muscles and skin compete for oxygen via the blood supply. The body has a reduced ability to decrease and maintain its temperature, and heat is lost through sweat evaporation. Quadriceps, muscles in the upper leg, are particularly susceptible to higher muscle temperatures when playing football in hot conditions.

When the core body temperature is raised, exercise capacity is reduced. Research has shown that footballers with better training cope better with higher core temperatures, compared to those who aren’t, showing the importance of conditioning training.

High heat and humidity results in the limitation of maximal intensity exercise, with a player’s distance and high intensity activity decreasing. It was found that at a temperature of 43°C, male footballers’ distances are reduced by 26%, compared to in a temperature of 21°C. Match-play characteristics such as turnovers, possession, and technical skill execution are all affected by heat and humidity.

When it comes to playing in hot conditions – whether it’s an international tournament or a friendly match - footballers should try to cool down before and during games to keep their performance from suffering.

Close

Rain

With the next instalment of the Euros, matches played in London, Glasgow, Dublin and Amsterdam are likely to see rainfall, with each city having an average of 8-10 days of rain in June. For teams playing in these cities, they’ll need to be prepared.

Even if the temperatures aren’t cold, playing football in the rain can cause footballers’ body temperatures to drop, as their kit gets wet. Changing clothes at half time is crucial to keeping body temperatures up – this includes a jersey, shorts and socks; wet socks slow players down, as they’re heavier.

The rain makes the pitch slippery, causing the ball to slide and move faster. However, long periods of heavy rain can result in flooding, slowing the ball and disrupting passes. Footballers must adjust the way they play, for example, making lighter touches on the ball.

While some matches may be called off because of the rain, for Premier League and Championship teams, this is rarely the case, as they’ve invested in the facilities to cope with adverse weather conditions, such as draining systems.

The same can’t be said in Kazakhstan, where an unknown league match has taken the crown for wettest pitch. The pitch was so flooded, players were immersed in ankle-deep water, and the ball kept floating away!

Close

Wind

While strong winds may not be as big an issue for footballers when compared to high heat and humidity levels, it can still be very distracting and affect their performance.

If the wind is too strong, then the worst-case scenario is matches get called off – like the 2014 game between Crystal Palace v Everton, which was postponed as storms swept across the country, or more recently the Manchester City vs West Ham game which was postponed after Storm Ciara registered wind speeds of up to 80mph across the UK.

In fact, wind can make it hard for teams to play technically and tactically. Tactics must be adjusted depending whether teams are playing into the wind, or with the wind behind them. Strategies become a lot simpler too, as the technical moves often can’t be pulled off, and long passes are advised against.

Playing with the wind is the ideal choice, as it can help teams with goal kicks and corner kicks, and it’s easier to move the ball down the field. Plus, having your back to the wind means that players can conserve their energy levels, as exercise isn’t as difficult. With wind direction able to change extremely quickly, players take advantage of playing with the wind as much as possible.

Former Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard was especially grateful for the wind in a 2012 Premier League game against Bolton Wanderers, when a clearance from his own box caught a gust and bounced over the stranded Adam Bogdan into the opposition goal from 92 yards away!

Close

Freezing temperatures

Western European teams often approach fixtures in Ukraine and Russia with apprehension, as they’re typically faced with icy conditions. However, one of the coldest matches to be played was actually a Europa League match hosted in Norway, between Rosenborg and Bayer Leverkusen in 2010, when temperatures dipped to a freezing -15°C.

Even England’s elite football clubs can fall victim to a winter chill, and the 2009/10 Premier League season saw just this. With seven fixtures postponed in one day over the festive period, the league was forced to rearrange around the already busy schedule. Across the entire Football League, 83 fixtures were abandoned because of wintry conditions.

When faced with cold temperatures, the body tries to maintain homeostasis, with the normal body temperature around 37°C. When the temperature drops during the end of season, footballers’ bodies will adopt certain mechanisms such as shivering, to keep warm.

This is referred to as a ‘fight over blood supply’. Active muscles need an increased blood supply, but when it’s cold, the blood flows away from the skin to protect the body’s core; and this results in an increase of energy requirements.

Cold temperatures can also cause dehydration, with water loss coming from both sweat and breathing.

Exercising in the cold results in more physiologically stressful conditions. As such, footballers will experience colder muscles that are less efficient, muscle contractions, and slower body reactions.

With muscles becoming stiffer throughout the game, if blood flow and nutrients aren’t delivered to the area quickly, then muscles don’t have the energy required to do their work, which increases their chances of being torn or strained.

Sources

• https://believeperform.com/the-effects-of-heat-on-sport-performance/

• https://www.gssiweb.org/sports-science-exchange/article/sse-131-impact-of-altitude-and-heat-on-football-performance

• https://www.chartblocks.com/en/blog/post/the-hottest-world-cup-finals

• https://www.90min.com/posts/4424938-7-football-matches-played-in-the-most-extreme-conditions

• https://www.forebet.com/en/strategies-for-predictions-making/522-how-does-the-weather-conditions-affect-the-outcome-of-football-matches/

• https://www.football-stadiums.co.uk/articles/why-are-football-matches-abandoned/

• https://goalwa.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/the-cold-wet-truth-about-weather-and-soccer/

• https://mastersoccermind.com/16-tricks-you-should-use-to-play-soccer-in-the-rain/

• https://www.thesun.co.uk/archives/football/564708/the-wettest-football-match-in-history/

• https://www.soccercoachweekly.net/soccer-coaching/tips-advice/soccer-coaching-tips-for-playing-in-windy-weather/

• https://www.forebet.com/en/strategies-for-predictions-making/522-how-does-the-weather-conditions-affect-the-outcome-of-football-matches

• http://discoversoccer.info/wind-and-game-strategy/

• https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/coaches-explain-ideal-weather-conditions-for-a-world-cup-soccer-match/348323

• https://www.goal.com/en-gb/news/2896/premier-league/2014/02/12/4615344/weather-wreaks-havoc-on-premier-league-fixtures

• https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/av/football/16431991

• https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/storm-ciara-wreaks-havoc-sport-21461024

• https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/warnings-and-advice/uk-storm-centre/storm-ciara

• https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001982.htm

• https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/how-cold-weather-changes-the-game-for-football-players-2/433233

• https://www.90min.com/posts/4424938-7-football-matches-played-in-the-most-extreme-conditions

• https://www.theguardian.com/football/2010/dec/15/the-knowledge-cold-football-matches

• http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/8452898.stm