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How to Prepare for a Soccer Game

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Have you every wondered what you should do to get ready to play your best? My brother and I play a lot of soccer around our house and we’re always thinking about how to play our best. Here are some things we do to gear up.

1. Mental
We both have soccer journals that we keep. Each week we write down different things that we learned in practice or from the last game. We often list stuff we could improve on and read over it on the way to the game so it’s fresh in our minds when we hit the field. We also visualize ourselves doing what we want to do in a game, like step-overs or shooting the ball in the back of the net. Sometimes we write moves on our hands that we want to use in a game.

2. Nutrition
You won’t see us at McDonalds or sipping a soda that often. What you eat has a lot to do with how you play. We try to eat things that have a lot of protein (eggs, chicken, fish, some veggies) and good carbs (pasta, whole wheat sandwiches etc.) on the night before and on game day. Cliff or Power Bars are usually in the car for some quick fuel. If we want something sweet, we typically do fruit like apples, oranges, or strawberries.

3. Hydration
The body is made up of about 70% water. When you play you sweat and lose water. When you lose water, you lose energy and the ability to think clearly. You want to be your best physically and mentally for the game. How much water you have in your system will impact that. We try to start drinking extra water 24 hours before the whistle blows. I (Ethan) have a gallon Gatorade cooler that I carry around and sip on 24 hours before each game. You might think I’m crazy, but I can tell a big difference when I don’t. I usually drink water with ice, but I’ve read that it’s best to drink it room temperature so that your body doesn’t have to use energy to break down the ice.

4. Sleep
We try to get to bed at a good time the night before. A minimum of 8-9 hours of sleep is what we shoot for. We’ve played at tournaments where guys stay up late messing around and it always impacts their performance the next day. We’ve learned our lessons. If we want to play well and help the team, we need to get good sleep.

5. Physical
Before the game I (Ethan) am always getting focused by stretching out and juggling. I try to get a lot of quick touches on the ball to quicken my feet. Good players should get 1000 touches on the ball each day. When I arrive, I take a slow jog with the ball around the field to get focussed. After, I do individual drills to prepare myself and then do team warm-ups with the rest of the guys so I’m at 100%. If my feet are sore before the game I will ice and tape them up.

Tango 12

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A couple months back my Adidas Koponya match ball stopped holding air. Something went bad with the internal bladder. The ball was given to me by my parents on the backside of the South Africa Confederations Cup. It was my favorite soccer ball. The feel and design was amazing – one of a kind.

I called up Adidas to see if there was anything I could do to fix the ball. Matt helped me out. He listened to what I had to say and told me that there was nothing I could do to fix the ball, but Adidas would send me a gift card for the full amount so I could purchase another one in its place. Unfortunately, the Koponya is a limited edition and Adidas no longer makes it.

With the Euro 12 around the corner, I decided to replace the Koponya with the Tango 12. Jazzed, I went to the Adidas website to order it up, but for some reason it wasn’t available online. Come to find out, I would possibly have to wait another 3 months to get my hands on one from Adidas. So Jason (from Adidas) went to work for us and contacted the online store guys to see what could be done to get the ball back up online. A week later Jason shot me an email and told me that the ball was back up and ready to go. l went to the site and pulled the trigger. It arrived at the house a couple days ago. I can’t believe how nice this ball is. Close to perfect.

Big thanx to Adidas, Jason & Matt. You guys rock!

Playing for Something Bigger

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This weekend my U14 Lakeshore Premier Soccer team is playing in the Novi Jags Tournament in eastern Michigan. It’s going to be a blast. When we play, we always play to win, but this time our team is playing for something a little bit bigger. We’re playing for kids in Japan who lost everything in the tsunami last year.

Our goal is raise enough money to give 100 kids, who currently live in the Tsunami Zone, new, quality soccer balls. Most of these kids have lost their homes and everything they own. Some of them have even lost family members. Approximately 19,000 people died from the catastrophe. I know from experience, that it would be huge for many of these kids to receive a new soccer ball when everything else is lost.

We’re wearing the new Charity Ball special edition “all red” kit. Hopefully it will be a big hit and creates some hype around the cause! Our team will also be spreading the word during the tourney and telling people what Charity Ball is all about. If you would like to sponsor our team or donate a soccer ball, you can give online here.


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For the last 10 months I have been training with Coach, Brent Kowalski from Grand Haven, MI. Brent is an awesome coach. He has a perfect mind for the game and has the right amount of intensity. Every time my team steps on the pitch, he tells us to “play with heart ” no matter what. It took me a little while realize what Coach Brent really meant, when he said play with “heart” but I soon figured it out.

As a teenager, one of his best friends was a guy by the name of Mike Herman. Brent and Mike played soccer together in early high school. They were always challenging themselves and the rest of the team to step on the field and play with heart. In other words – put 100% of your passion and effort into your play – and that’s what Mike did. At age 15, Mike was in a fatal car accident and passed away. His heart and legacy continues to lives on through Brent, and us- if we let it.

Here is what playing with “heart” means to me:

  • It means to play with passion
  • It means to give your best on every pass, attack, tackle, header or kick
  • It means to use your head and think about what’s tactically best for you and your team
  • It means to go hard and play with physicality
  • It means to apply yourself and the strategic things you’ve learned about the game
  • It means to play for something bigger then yourself


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We’re in the process of shooting a new promo video for Charity Ball. This little video follows a Jabulani soccer ball as it leaves the US, travels to Paris, on to South Africa and ultimately into the hands of kid who lives in a shanty town. It should be pretty cool when it’s finished. So while we were in Chicago last week, (our Lakeshore team was playing in a Nike Tournament) it just made sense to grab a few shots for the vid a few slices of deep-dish pizza from Genos East. Got lotsa luv for the Windy City. -E

Off to Africa

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Hope College student, Sam Tzou (Holland, Michigan) stopped by the office today and picked up 26 new soccer balls to take with him to Africa. He and some friends will be hand-delivering the balls to kids in Livingston, Zambia over the next few weeks.

Sam, thanks for helping us make it possible for kids in Zamibia to have ball!





Team Vroon

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Sisters Mallory (Junior) and Allison (Freshman) Vroon love the beautiful game and play on the varsity soccer team at Black River High School in Holland, Michigan. A few months back (during the holiday season) they decided to get involved with Charity Ball by making some donations to help kids in Africa have a ball. Not only did they donate, but they also decided to order up a few Charity Ball T’s to help spread the word and support the soccer ball fund. Here is a sweet picture the gals sporting their CB t-shirts. Looking good ladies in Charity Ball colors! Thanks for having huge hearts and helping us make a difference. -E

How to Clean a Soccer Ball

By Soccer Culture, Uncategorized

* Due to Coronavirus, this article was updated with disinfecting instructions. View updated post

Every now and again, someone will ask, “What is the best way to clean a soccer ball?” Good question. Balls can get pretty ugly after a while and if you play on a turf field, the artificial pitch can make things even worse. There are probably a dozen different ways to do this, but here’s what we do at our house:

  1. Begin by rinsing the ball with clean water. Try not to drench it, because the water can eat away at the seams over time. Use a rag and get rid of all the loose dirt.
  2. Once all the loose dirt is gone, we need to use a cleanser. Soap doesn’t always do the trick, so we take it up a notch. Grab some diluted Simple Green and spray the ball. We usually use a 50/50 mix: 50% Simple Green and 50% water. (We talked to some of the guys at Adidas and they tell us that 409 can make it happen as well.)
  3. Spray the diluted Simple Green on the ball and wait about 30 seconds. It will loosen the grime.
  4. Next, take a 3M Scotch-Brite pad and gently scrub each section of the ball . Make sure you take it easy around the decals. (Scotch-Brite tip from Coach Brent Kowalski)
  5. Rinse with a wet cloth, dry with a towel and call it good.

New NikeID Vapor VIIIs

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Last night I received my new Nike Vapor Vllls. I customized them on and the entire process took about a month. The cleats didn’t arrive looking exactly like what I expected, but they are sweet anyway!

Here’s the quick overview:

(Challenge red) ie tangerine-tango red with white shoe laces

White swooshes, white heal graphics and KING id. Nike decided to do away with the lightning bolt graphics that were on the Vapor VIIs.

Went with the safari package to complete the look. The safari finish gives the boots a bit of a shine.

Opted for the firm grounds. More to come.

Better than the 7s out of the box. It was like they were molded to my feet immediately.

Lightest boots I’ve ever owned

They look sick!

It’s been raining for two days straight, so I haven’t had a chance to play in them yet. I’m hoping the rain stops and sun comes out for my league game tomorrow. I’ll let you know how they perform next week.


Designed for Champions

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Nike just released the new 2012 US National Team home jersey. It’s sick. It features Dri-FIT technology, which works to take away body moisture-keeping players cool. It also has new ventilation holes on the side that are pretty nifty. What’s really amazing is that each jersey is made with an average of 13 recycled plastic bottles. I can’t wait to see the US teams play in this new kit. My Aunt Cristy and Jim gave me a gift card for Christmas. I’ve been waiting to use it for something really cool and it looks like the waiting has paid off!