Panting as she dribbles the ball down the field, making sure the ball goes off the right part of her foot, and trying to figure out who is the best player to pass to make up the amazing sport of soccer. Soccer is a rewarding sport to play because it teaches coordination, increases cardiovascular health, and has cognitive benefits. Soccer uses the whole body, therefore, requires coordination from your eyes to the rest of your body. Cardiovascular health is increased due to the constant running, jogging, and walking done. Soccer improves cognitive functions because shapes are an important piece of soccer. Soccer is a great sport for all ages because it is so beneficial to the player’s overall health.
Soccer teaches coordination from one’s eyes to the whole body. Hand-eye coordination is required for throw-ins. Head-eye coordination is needed for headers. Foot-eye coordination is essential to kicking and passing the ball well. Playing soccer finely tunes a player’s muscles to be connected with their nervous system. The precise coordination of skeletal muscles and central nerves are regulated and controlled by the common term of “coordination.” Coordination is a manufactured term (Schreiner). Players who have developed strong coordination are able to control their movements and act quickly and when under pressure from the other team and in other non-soccer related activities. For example, at the beginning of this soccer season, the ball would be passed to me, and I would put my leg out to get the ball. It would completely miss the ball and it would fly past my leg. After about four days of practice, I was able to continuously get the ball without missing it. This example shows that soccer can help improve coordination quickly. Body coordination is improved in players by the complex movements such as dribbling the ball, turning and passing because these are all done at different speeds and directions. “Research done at the Institute for Neurology in London confirms vision controls the movement of the foot… The development of foot-eye coordination allows a player to keep his head up during ball handling” (5 Things You Need to Know About Foot-Eye Coordination). This coordination allows players to multitask by dribbling and looking for the next best short or pass. Soccer is not only beneficial to coordination it also rewards the heart.
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Soccer improves the cardiovascular system of players daily. Soccer is so healthy for the body because the player is continuously sprinting, running, jogging, and walking. This type of exercise is called “speed training.” “Speed training” forces your heart to beat slower when a player is jogging or walking so that the player’s heart rate does not need to be as high when a player is sprinting. It tricks the player’s body into thinking that jogging is restful. This allows players to have a very low resting heart rate. Soccer is continuously building the muscles of the heart. The player’s heart muscles get bigger and stronger so then they can pump blood more effectively to the rest of the body.
Soccer can even prevent the cardiovascular disease of hypertension. Some research compiled at the Universities of Exeter and Copenhagen and Gentofte University in Denmark say that soccer training is more effective than the advice that is prescribed by doctors. This study included 33 men who had mild to moderate hypertension. They were between the ages of 33 to 54 years old. Each man was placed into one of two groups. One of the groups engaged in two 1-hour practices each week. While the other group got normal care from their physician. The advice from the physician included a diet and physical activity. The study lasted for six months. The group that attended soccer practice’s average mean blood pressure reduction was doubled compared to the controlled group. The group that participated in the practices saw notable improvements in maximal oxygen uptake, maximal exercise capacity, better resting heart rate, and a lower body fat mass (Wortman). Joshua Wortman said, “The findings in this study make a convincing case for soccer as a means for not only improving physical fitness but also as a way to control blood pressure. Soccer, rather than medication, could be an effective and natural approach to help alleviate the symptoms of hypertension. Combining the advice from your doctor along with a soccer regimen could result in better health and more fun.” Playing soccer is very rewarding to the heart and can even prevent and reduce heart disease.
Playing soccer is very nourishing to the brain. It is even said that soccer is just as good for the brain as chess. Soccer strengthens the player’s ability to think quickly. In soccer, a player always has to be thinking. A player must always be ready for the ball to be passed to them, and they have to be moving to the position for a pass. Players also must think about where they are in relationship to other players and how to prevent the other team from intercepting a ball being passed. Even when the game slows down, players are always looking for territorial advantages, and they are trying to position themselves to receive a pass or to defend their goal. Soccer develops seeing the world through geometry. After playing soccer for a little while, a player is able to see how everything connects together and what passes should be made. I can see this in my own life when I was younger I would just think about the next pass. As I have gotten more advanced, I am able to see how the ball should be passed between multiple players. After a player has played for a few years, they are able to see the field from a position where they are looking down onto it. Once a player is able to look at the field in that way, they can see the geometrical shapes very easily and it becomes a natural part of playing.
Many people are concerned that soccer can be dangerous especially for kids, in that when they are doing headers they are damaging their brain. It is even said that headers can do more damage to the brain than any other collision. Nearly three million kids get concussions from soccer each year. Some soccer programs are doing their best to prevent these concussions from happening. For example, my siblings and I all play soccer for the Champlin and Dayton Athletic Association. Two years ago they made it a rule that only high school players are allowed to head the ball. My sister was in middle school at the time and she headed the ball. The referee blew his whistle and gave the other team a free kick. A free kick is a kick where the ball is stationary and awarded to one team as a penalty for a foul for the other team. This example shows how soccer programs are trying to prevent these injuries from happening by changing the long-standing rules of the game.
Many parents are also concerned that about 88,000 children from ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for soccer-related injuries (Sports Injury Statistics). Injuries like these can be prevented by players properly training and stretching. The Legacy Christian Academy Girls Varsity Soccer Team has a special warm up to prevent knee injuries. Players also have to know like any sport there is a risk of injury. Players should try to play as safely as possible. There are injuries inevitable in almost any sport, therefore, to get good exercise players must take the risk of getting injured.
Playing soccer is very worthwhile to a player’s coordination to the whole body, cardiovascular health, disease prevention, and cognitive health. Soccer trains the brain to coordinate the player’s eyes to their whole body. Soccer is not only heart-healthy, but it also prevents and reduces hypertension. Soccer trains players to see geometrical shapes and to multitask. All of these health benefits outweigh the risks of injury. The University of Copenhagen said, “Soccer is a pleasurable team sport that provides an all-round fitness and can be used as treatment…” (Soccer Improves Health, Fitness and Social Abilities).