Soccer is a year-round sport for many players and the ‘winter months’ or months with inclement weather can last anywhere from a couple of months to half the year depending on where you live. Soccer365 takes a look at some layering basics to help you stay warm, dry, or both while training or playing a match.
Layering is the best way to maximize your comfort while on the field. The concept allows the player to slowly warm-up to their ideal playing condition by making quick adjustments to your training gear depending on activity levels and weather.
This has become more and more important over the years with field turf allowing training in worse weather conditions.
A three layer system works well in most conditions. Each layer has a specific function with different types and weights of gear available for each layer that makes for a customized system for differing outside conditions. The 3 layers you need to consider are 1) the base layer, 2) the insulating layer, and 3) the shell layer.
The Base Layer is next to the skin and should feature moisture management. This layer will regulate your body temperature by moving moisture away from the skin which keeps you dry. In the colder months this helps you avoid hypothermia and the shivering associated with it. In the summer months this helps you stay cool.
It is most common for the base layer to be made of a synthetic polyester based material. Some players confuse the base layer with snug fitting compression gear. Compression gear works for a base layer but there are loose fitting options that work well as a base layer.
adidas ClimaCool/ClimaWarm, Nike Dri Fit, Under Armour’s CoolSwitch/HeatGear are some examples.
The best piece of advice, however, may be what to avoid. Players should avoid using cotton as their base layer. Cotton retains moisture which will work against you especially once you stop your training or lower the intensity level and result in you feeling cold.
The Middle Layer is designed for insulation. This layer traps body heat and redirects it back to the body and stops cold air from getting through to your body.
The degree of warmth varies depending on the product selected. Fleece is the most common middle layer. It is preferred as it is lightweight and breathable and continues to insulate even when wet. One drawback to fleece is that most are not wind resistant and not effective in windy conditions.
There are many types of fleece but they are usually polyester fleece. The most common in soccer is microfleece which is lightweight and has a smooth chamois-like finish. But some, especially designed with lifestyle functionality, are in the 100-weight line of fleeces which have 1 or both sides with a fuzzy finish.
The third outer layer is the Shell Layer. It should be roomy to allow you to wear it over the first 2 layers so most are sized large in the body and on the arms. The shell layer allows the other layers to work properly as it protects you from the wind, rain, and snow and insures you stay dry and can warm up properly. Once you get wet (or your base and second layer are exposed to water from the elements) it is harder to get warm again.
The shell layer should also include some ventilation to help moisture from perspiration escape as you warm-up.
And they come in a variety of functionalities and weights from a lightweight shells for warmer conditions to heavier weight many times insulated with a fleece liner for colder climates.
Once your core is protected don’t forget about your extremities. In extreme cold many players like to have a hat to start training and field gloves. These are easy to remove and one of the first pieces of equipment that usually come off. And for especially rainy days, make sure you have an additional pair(s) of socks.
This system makes it easy to start a warm-up and take off a layer as you see fit. Ideally the multiple layers allow you to stay a consistent temperature by removing layers. You never want to be too hot or too cold. By the time you are fully warmed up and ready to pull on a jersey. Similarly as you cool down you need to pull layers back on to keep from getting cold after training.