By Dan Guttenplan
No current coach in college soccer has won more NCAA Tournament games on the road than Penn State’s Bob Warming. Between his time as men’s coach at Creighton University and Penn State, he has been recognized as National Coach of the Year twice. He ranks third among active NCAA Division I coaches with 44 career wins.
A lot of US Youth Soccer players will be traveling to tournaments this spring. What is the secret to playing well on the road?
“There’s a pretty good list of things that we think are essential. Some are super simple. Some are more expensive propositions that aid in recovery. The most important regeneration that you can do is sleep. That’s a simple one.”
How can you make sure your players are getting enough sleep?
“We have all of the kids participate in putting down their devices after dark. Put it on evening mode. The light is not so bright, so the quality of sleep will be better. It’s not only sleep, but the quality of sleep.”
What if the team is traveling in the evening or early morning?
“They’re going to be traveling, so the essential thing for players is to bring along their own pillow. It’s important that they have their own pillow. If they’re in a car or on a plane, that will make a difference in their comfort level.”
Does your team do anything unique in terms of nutrition?
“One of the hot things that we’ve seen a lot of research on is the exceptional recovery effects of cherry juice. It’s getting all kinds of rave reviews. The Women’s National Team is a big proponent as well.”
What do you recommend in terms of recovery?
“An ice tub is great for after exercise and to get the body temperature down. If you can’t get an ice tub, get in a swimming pool. Then you can do some light stretching; it gets the weight off your legs. Do some light kicking to relax all of the muscles.”
Do you travel with any equipment that helps with recovery on road trips?
“We take along foam rollers on all of our trips. Our guys roll out. They all wear compression pants while they’re on the flights and every time right after playing. They’re taking showers, getting something to eat, and getting the compression pants on. That’s become the norm with pro teams.”
Is there anything you would recommend for an athlete dealing with an injury?
“Sometimes you get a little ache, a tweak in a muscle or soft tissue. You need to have some tigger-point tools. Those are things like a smaller ball. You can roll around on a lacrosse ball or softball. It’s a different kind of tool that can be helpful to use on different parts of the body.”
What else can a player do on his own when it comes to recovery?
“Epsom salts have a great quality of reducing soreness. They will really help take toxins out of the body as well. Post-tournament, I recommend yoga for a great overall body stretch. That allows you to focus on being aware of where you are tight and sore. Those will really help you.”
When it comes to recruiting, what is the best advice you can give a high school player?
“The most important thing is to become a great player. I think a lot of kids go to camps – ID camps – and they just keep playing. The important thing is what you do between camps. I’ve had at least one player selected in 21 of the last 22 MLS Drafts. Every player had the same quality. They either came in early or stayed late after practice and worked on specific things for their position. They didn’t just pass or run; they worked on things for their position to make themselves dominant players on the field. The whole camp business is a huge money-maker and a huge expense. You read articles all the time: Get exposure for yourself. Play in this tournament, play in that tournament. Or even worse, go to this ID camp. The way to get recruited is to be a great player. Spend the time to make yourself a great player, and you won’t have to go to any ID camps. Coaches will come to you.”