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Stretches to Reduce Tight Hamstrings

Tight hamstrings are more common than not in today’s world of sitting in cars, at desks and computers and for most of the day in general. The hamstrings flex the knees, so when you are sitting down and your knees are in a flexed position for a long time, these muscles can shorten.
Although stretching exercises are one way to combat tight hamstrings, a study performed on football players at the University of Texas at Austin found that applying moist heat to the hamstrings resulted in more gains in hamstring flexibility than static stretching. A moist pack was placed on the hamstrings for 20 minutes at a time. The time involved, however, was much greater than the 90 seconds of stretching that the other group did. You can copy the protocol by wrapping a moist pack heated to 160 degrees in a terry cloth and laying it on your hamstrings as you lie on your stomach.
Bicycle leg swings are a dynamic stretching exercise to loosen up tight hamstring muscles. This exercise targets one leg at a time. Perform bicycle leg swings with both legs. To begin, stand on your right leg and bring your left knee up to waist level with the knee bent. Then straighten the left leg and swing it down toward the floor and behind you. When the leg cannot go any higher while straight without you bending forward, flex the knee as if to kick yourself in the butt

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. People with difficulty balancing on one leg may put their hand on a wall or sturdy object such as a ballet bar for assistance.
The modified hurdler’s stretch is a static stretching exercise to lengthen the hamstrings. This variation on the class hurdler’s stretch puts less stress on the knees. To perform this exercise, sit with your right leg straight and your left foot against your inner right thigh with the knee bent. Lean forward and reach for your right toes. This stretch may be uncomfortable for people with inflexible hips and groins. Placing a pillow under the bent knee for support may alleviate discomfort. Perform this stretch on both legs.
Yoga poses are another cure for tight hamstrings. Postures such as the big toe pose, staff pose, happy baby pose, triangle and intense side stretch all elongate the hamstrings. The side-reclining leg lift is one such pose; it sounds like a strengthening exercise but is actually a stretch. To perform this exercise, lie on your side and prop your head up with your arm. Raise your top leg toward the ceiling and grasp the big toe of this leg to pull the leg toward the side of your head. Repeat on the other side. If you have trouble balancing on your side, place your bottom foot against a wall for support.

Length of a Regulation Soccer Game

The first official rules of soccer were drawn-up by the English Football Association in 1863. These rules, known as the Laws of the Game

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, are now governed by the F¨¦d¨¦ration Internationale de Football Association, commonly known as FIFA. There are 17 rules currently listed by FIFA; the seventh law deals with the duration of a regulation soccer game

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.
A regulation soccer game is divided into two halves of 45 minutes each. These two periods combine to make up the standard 90 minute length of a soccer game. The official FIFA Laws of the Game states the standard match length can be altered before the game begins if the referee and both teams agree. Such an occurrence is very rare in professional soccer. The threat of insufficient light is the most likely cause of reduced game time, but the use of floodlights in modern soccer largely negates this problem.
All players receive a break after the first half of the game. The halftime interval cannot last more than 15 minutes and all the players must be out on the field of play after this period. FIFA regulations allow the referee to alter the length of the halftime interval if necessary, but this situation rarely occurs in professional football. Instances of floodlight failure or crowd trouble can sometimes lead to an extended halftime interval, allowing time for any problems to be resolved.
Injury time, also known as stoppage time, is often added to the end of the first and second halves of standard time. A number of situations can lead to the extension of each 45-minute period. The most common reasons include time taken to make substitutions, the treatment of injured players and deliberate acts of time wasting by individual players. The referee decides how much injury time, if any, should be added at the end of either period. The time added rarely exceeds five minutes.
Some competitions, such as knockout tournaments, do not permit a tied final score after 90 minutes of play. In this instance, 30 minutes of extra time are added to give both teams the opportunity to win the contest. Extra time, also known as overtime, consists of two 15-minute halves. The players are allowed a five-minute interval between these two halves.
If extra time does not provide an outright winner, a knockout game is often decided by a penalty shootout. Each team nominates five players to take a penalty kick at goal. If both teams score the same amount of penalties then the shootout goes to sudden death. There is no set duration for a penalty shootout as the game must be resolved with a clearly decided winning team.

What Are the Benefits of Soccer for Kids?

Soccer develops agility, speed and stamina, and also teaches children the importance of teamwork, so it can play an important part in your child¡¯s physical and social development. Many communities offer soccer leagues for a variety of ages and skill levels. Choose a soccer league that matches your child¡¯s needs. If you are unsure which league is best, talk to some team coaches to see if they are a good match for your child.
Soccer players need to be fit and agile. Most games require children to sprint after the ball and jog up and down the field

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, which are activities that build endurance and speed. Dribbling and shooting the ball develops agility and coordination. The health benefits of active sports such as soccer include stronger bones and muscles, decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and decreased chance of becoming overweight, according to Kids Health from Nemours. The organization also points out that aerobic exercise causes the heart to beat faster. When aerobic exercise occurs regularly, it ¡°strengthens the heart and improves the body¡¯s ability to deliver oxygen to all its cells.¡±
Playing with a soccer team develops a child¡¯s ability to cooperate and interact with other children. To win a soccer game, the whole team must communicate and work together. Defensive positions must support the midfield and offensive positions during attacks on the opponents¡¯ goal. Offensive positions must return to their own goal to help the defensive positions when they are under pressure from the other team. To move the ball up the field, players pass the ball, which requires communicating. These types of cooperative activities develop a child’s social abilities. Children who play soccer develop self-confidence and improved social skills.
Since soccer has an emphasis on the success of the team as a whole, rather than the success of individual players, it is a sport that less athletically inclined children will enjoy. Compared to such team sports as baseball, which requires players to bat or field a ball alone, soccer puts less pressure on children. Soccer encourages teamwork and communication, which allows a child to identify personally with team successes, rather than feel a need to outperform teammates to gain recognition.

Throwing Games for Children

Throwing games allow your child to throw balls and beanbags in a controlled environment, instead of inside the house where he may break your valuables. Once your child reaches 4 to 6 years old, he is at a stage of gross motor skill development where throwing games can help him practice using large muscle groups. In addition, the Encyclopedia of Children¡¯s Health notes that throwing games can help your child with fine motor skill eye-hand and foot-eye development.
Patience and practice are important to keep in mind when teaching throwing games to children

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. Because motor development occurs at a different rate for each child, the Encyclopedia of Children¡¯s Health stresses the importance of not pushing your child to a higher level before she is ready. If she is not ready for group activities, choose throwing games she can play by herself or with you. Helping your child learn to throw lies in actively participating in teaching throwing and other games, according to the University of Missouri-Extension.
The beanbag throw is a game your child can play either by herself or in a group setting. Game materials include one or more beanbags, some tape or string and an optional bucket or basket. Use the tape or string to mark two lines about 6 feet apart. If you are using a basket, place it on one line, and then have your child or the group stand at the other. The goal, whether your child is practicing by himself or playing with a group, is to see how many times each child can hit the basket with a beanbag.
Chant ball and clap and catch are two more throwing games your child can play individually or within a group setting. The goal of chant ball is to throw a ball in the air and keep it there by clasping your hands together and batting it back into the air before it reaches the ground. Counting aloud each time the ball goes up also gives your child a chance to practice her counting skills. To play clap and catch, toss a ball in the air and clap once before catching it. Encourage your child with enthusiastic praise when she is successful in the games.
Spud is a group game. To start, each child is assigned a number and one child gets to be ¡°it.¡± The child who is ¡°it¡± stands in the middle while everyone else circles around him. ¡°It¡± throws a soft foam ball in the air and calls out a number while the children in the circle start running. The child who was assigned that number must return, catch the ball and call ¡°spud

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.¡± When he does, everyone else must stop running. The player with the ball then throws it toward another player. If he hits the player, she gets a letter in the word ¡°spud¡± and becomes ¡°it.¡± If he misses the player, he keeps the letter and becomes ¡°it.¡± As each player gets enough letters to spell the entire word, that player must sit out the rest of the game. The last player standing wins.

Track & Field Running Drills

The various events of track and field test every facet of the human body — speed, strength, agility and jumping ability. In order to get faster

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, be it in the short sprints or in the longer distances, you obviously have to practice running. To actually reach your potential, however, you need a clear idea of the specific workouts and exercises that allow you to perform your best at just the right time.
Before you hit the track for the meat of your workout, it’s important to make your muscles loose and supple and prepare your cardiovascular system for your efforts. While static stretching, which involves sitting or standing in place, was once the gold standard for track-and-field flexibility, this has been supplanted by dynamic stretching exercises. According to “Competitor” magazine, this type of stretching may help promote recovery from certain running injuries and prevent their recurrence. One basic routine: do 10 leg swings, 10 lateral leg swings and 10 giant lunges on each side, then do 30 seconds of lateral bounding with squat and lateral running with rotation in each direction.
Performing better on the track is dependent not only on running fast but also perfecting certain skills. For example, mastering the use of starting blocks for sprints allows you to accelerate to top speed in as little time as possible. In the starting position, the knee of your rear leg should form an angle of about 120 degrees and your forward knee should be flexed about 90 degrees. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart. If you’re on a relay team, practice exchanging the baton and make awareness of the front and back boundaries of the exchange zones on the track second nature. The first runner in the 400-meter relay should carry the baton in her left hand, and team members should alternate hands thereafter.
Mike Holloway, longtime track coach at the University of Florida, has his athletes execute a lot of drills in the six to 10 weeks preceding the start of the competitive season. These emphasize optimizing stride length and stride frequency. Circuit training improves basic aerobic fitness, and running itself addresses stride mechanics. Sample workouts on the track include five times 20 meters, four times 30 meters, three times 40 meters all-out with walking rest; six times 250 meters at 80 percent of max with two-minute rests; and two to three sets of 300, 200 and 100 meters at 80 percent effort with a 100-meter rest between reps and a 400-meter walk between sets.
Plyometrics reinforce limb movements and coordination at a neuromuscular level. As Mackenzie Lobby of “Competitor” magazine notes, studies have shown that the resulting increases in speed and power translate into faster performances on the track. Drills such as switch lunges, single-leg hops, leg bounds, bench taps, box jumps and rocket jumps strengthen your legs and challenge you to develop balance.

Game Changer: A Televised Sports Quiz

Did you know that before TV, tennis balls were white

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? The color was changed so that the balls would show up better on camera. There’s a lot you may not know about the history of sports and television

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. Think you’re an expert? Take this fact-or-fiction quiz to test your knowledge!

Timeline: History of Football Pads

Football pads were first used in 1877, not long after football became an established pastime on U.S. college campuses. The first football pads were much smaller and thinner than those used in today’s games. Over time, football pads evolved to cover more of the body, stand up to rough use and to be lighter and sturdier than the original pads.
In 1877, Princeton football player L.P. Smock designed the first football pads. Smock’s pads were thin quilted layers sewn to the shoulders, thighs and knees of the laced-up jersey and knee pants he designed as the first football uniform for Princeton’s players. The pads were not very heavy, and they also did not provide much protection.
The 1890s saw significant changes in football rules and the creation of better football pads. In 1894, the “flying wedge” formation was outlawed after it killed 20 collegiate players and injured 100 more in a single season. Meanwhile, sports equipment manufacturers, including Spalding and Victor, began marketing leather football pads. The pads were thicker than Smock’s original pads, and their leather construction made them more sturdy. Also, unlike Smock’s pads, the leather pads were designed to be sewn or strapped to the outside of the football uniform.
In 1915, sports equipment manufacturers developed and sold the first football helmets. These helmets were made of soft leather and were designed primarily to cover and protect the ears. Although early football helmets were called “head harnesses” by their manufacturers, their distinctive earflaps soon earned them the nickname “dog-ear helmets.” In the 1930s, the first hard leather helmets appeared, followed by rigid plastic helmets in the 1950s.
In the 1930s

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, football shoulder pads first took on the form we recognize today: a separate set of pads that cover the entire shoulder and upper chest area. The pads were first developed by the Spalding company and were made primarily of leather. Like some shoulder pads used today, they had laces in the front so players could adjust the fit. Although they offered greater protection than the quilted or leather pads, they were also significantly heavier.
During the 1980s, football padding and helmets continued to improve. Helmets developed full face masks that prevented injuries like broken noses. Manufacturers began to make shoulder pads using plastic and other synthetic materials that made the padding lighter and stronger. In addition, shoulder pads began to use a cantilevered design that dissipated the impact of a hit. Hip, thigh and knee pads also became common equipment. Today, college and professional football players are required to wear a helmet and pads when they play.

Great Circuit Training Workouts for Men

Circuit training is a great way for men to reach whatever fitness goal they may have. Circuit training can be defined as a series of exercises done without rest. Circuits can aid weight loss, blast strength gains, build endurance, and benefit flexibility. The following are three circuits to help you reach your fitness goal.
If your goal is to gain flexibility and speed, perform this circuit three times a week. Hit each exercise for 30 seconds without rest. Once the circuit is complete, rest one minute and a half. Repeat the circuit one more time. Bounce back and forth between upper body and lower body movements. The circuit consists of squats, pushups, lunges, pull-ups, squat jumps, dips, lunge jumps, and crunches.
If your fitness goal is to develop strength and cut up your physique, perform this circuit three times a week. Each exercise should be done for 12 repetitions without rest in between movements. Once the circuit is complete, rest for two minutes and repeat. The exercises are leg curls, military press, front squat, curls, hex squat, high rows, split squats, and triceps extensions.
If your fitness goal is to build endurance or lose weight, perform this circuit three times a week. The circuit should be completed with minimal rest between exercises. A good gauge would be two minutes of work then 30 seconds of rest

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. The movements are treadmill run, stair climbing, bench jumps, lunge walks, burpees, and lunge jumps.
As with any exercise program consult a physician before beginning. Every body type is different, so beginners should modify by shortening workout times and add to rest times. Advanced fitness levels should lengthen workout times and minimize rest times. The longer you continue working the circuits, the easier they become. Be sure to adjust the work and rest times as you go.

How Steadicams Work

Most people who own a camcorder also own a stack of tapes with hours of shaky, jarring video footage. And if you take videos with your smartphone, mostly likely they shake, rattle and roll.
To the typical amateur, the wobbles are an inevitable part of hand-held video or film. When you move while you’re shooting, the camera seems to pick up every jolt and shake of your body, no matter how hard you try to keep it level.
But in TV shows and professional movies (read: not that one you shot of your cat playing the keyboard), you see lots of long, moving hand-held shots that have no jolts and shakes at all. Camera operators often achieve this remarkable effect using a device called a Steadicam.
Since their introduction in 1976

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, Steadicams and other camera stabilization systems have become one of the most important tools in the filmmaking and sports’ world. They’ve expanded the cinematographer’s palette considerably and arguably have made watching a football game or skiing competition as enjoyable as playing a video game.
In this article, we’ll find out what a Steadicam is and see how it can eliminate shaking and rolling. We’ll also look at the history of Steadicams and explore how they’re used in movies.