I am training on my own. How many days a week should I train to get the most improvement without injuring myself?
There are a number of factors that affect the answer here:
- Your age – While research shows that it is physically just as safe (and, indeed, often beneficial) for younger children to practice four to five days a week as well, it is important not to push younger children too hard as the risk of emotional burnout is greater. As a general rule, I recommend
- Children Under 8: No more than 3 days a week including matches
- Children 8-14: No more than 4 days a week including matches
- Ages 14-40: No more than 6 days a week including matches; with 4-5 days and resting or light practice the day before matches being ideal
- Over 40: As per your body’s ability
- Your general health and fitness
- Your eating habits, iron intake, and calcium intake – This is particularly important for youth since iron and calcium needs are greater to support muscular development and bone growth.
- Social needs – Remember that your emotional well-being will affect your body.
- The weather
- What part of your sport’s season it is – Greater physical training is usually done in the pre-season and the off-season, while the regular season usually calls for more technical emphasis on “maintenance” and training (see chart below for some general principles).
Remember, how you train is more important than how much you train: choosing more effective exercises and drills, using better form, and training with a higher intensity will often be more effective than training more often.