How important is rest for a footballer?

Three thousand four hundred and twenty minutes. That is how long the premier league season is. It goes without saying that training is key to a player being able to complete a full season, but many forget just how crucial rest is for a professional footballer. 

We all understand the physical strain your body goes through when playing sport. Everyone needs recovery time after playing competitively however, in the Premier league matches come thick and fast with very little time for players to recover fully. The average footballer will run 10.5 km per game, in addition to the intense training these guys go through, there isn’t much time for their bodies to rest. It should be no shock that muscular injuries are becoming more frequent in the game when there is such a short time for player recovery.

In the 2020/21 premier league season, James Ward-Prowse and Pierre Emile Hojbjerg were the only 2 outfield players to star in every single minute of the campaign. To keep your body in perfect shape over the course of a 38 game season is quite remarkable and something very few players will ever be able to achieve. So how did they do it?

To start with, sleep is the foundation of a footballer's rest and recovery time. It is recommended that a player gets an average of 7-10 hours of sleep a day, any less than this and the risk of injury will increase as muscles will not have had the time to heal and repair, leading to muscle fatigue and breakdown. 

As well as the physical impact of football, the psychological impact of the game can be just as damaging. Mentally a player needs to be very tough to complete a season. The stress of competing and training every week can have serious impacts on a players mental wellbeing and as a result harm their performance. Stress can lead to a lack of rest and can cause a player to overtrain, leading to injury further down the line. This is the reason why the majority of footballers have other hobbies to distract themselves from the pressure they are constantly under. I would imagine we are all well aware of Gareth Bale’s love of golf, this is a hobby that many other players take up to occupy themselves when they are not on the football field. 

Spending quality time with family and friends is not always easy due to the amount of travelling a player has to do. But making time to socialise will be extremely beneficial to your mental health. Switching off from football is not as easy for some as it is for others, no matter whether you’re in a Sunday league side or playing in the big leagues. Having other activities to indulge in will keep a player's head clear so they are fully prepared for both the phycological and physical challenges that lie ahead. 

To put it simply, rest is one of the cornerstones of being a footballer.