A GUIDE FOR FOOTBALL VETERANS 

Are you a footballer approaching 35 with absolutely no desire to quit football? Then this part is for you! You may not yet be aware but you're now entering the world of veterans.

But what does it mean to be a veteran? What's the best way to live out your footballing passion as you get older? Whether you're 35 or 55, playing casually, in a championship or at work, let us give you a few tips on how best to approach the transition to veteran status. The aim: to carrying on enjoying and getting fulfilment out of football.

Take the time to warm up

   

The hardest thing about being a veteran? Avoiding injuries. You think you can play like you're still 20 when you're not. When playing with your mates after work or colleagues at lunchtime, you fall into the trap of going straight onto the pitch and having your first touch without warming up. You might also join the game at the last minute and forget to warm up properly.

These are two "classic" errors that end in injury, since we know 80% of team sport injuries are the result of forgetting to warm up. And let's be honest, it takes longer to get properly warmed up when you're older.

We recommend warming up your muscles for 15-20 minutes. This is essential for reducing the risk of injury.

Know your limits!

It may seem obvious but it's important to know your own limits, whatever level you play at.

You need to know whether your body needs more time to properly warm up; whether you need to perform a specific stretch to iron out those little niggles you've picked up over your long and successful career; or whether you just need to quickly wake up your muscles.

You also need to be aware of the limits to your technique, because a veteran's team might have people aged anywhere between 35 and 50. So when that young, feisty 35-year-old goes for a bicycle kick, don't try and copy them!

Opt for a more reasonable style of play

You'll never lose that competitive streak of your youth. That much is obvious. Your added years won't make you lose that hunger on the pitch. You'll still want to win but it may just not show up in your game as much. As a veteran you'll find you've lost a bit of control and you may make more unintentional mistakes.

But at least you won't be committing any more ugly fouls. The game should be a lot more friendly, so try to keep it clean if you used to be the type of player who'd go for the throat!

In terms of technique and tactics, veterans should use their experience and anticipation more than their speed.

Chosing is committing 

As a veteran, you've decided to carry on playing football despite your age and family commitments. (Not to mention your usual Sunday plans such as the family meal.) When some people reach 30 they decide to stop playing and focus on their family.  

But when you choose to carry on, you're making a commitment to your teammates.

Your team is counting on you. Your reliability and desire to play will be your two best assets. But your wife won't see it that way; she'll have to accept the fact you'll often be out the house training and travelling. You'll need to be mentally prepared.

After the match 

People tend to keep football up for two reasons: the joy of playing and the great company. A veteran's sporting life is marked by training, matches and that famous post-match get-together.

Let's be honest, part of the reason we play is to enjoy those post-match sessions. For football veterans it's all about meeting up after the game, having a chat and enjoying each other's company.

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