Winter weather can make playing at any level that little bit tricker. The surface can range between icy or a complete mud-bath, the wind can make crosses unpredictable and a the drop in temperature increases the risk of injuries.
To find out how the professionals deal with harsh weather, we caught up with Liverpool & England winger Raheem Sterling on the set of a photoshoot for the latest Nike Pro Combat baselayers for some insight.
What makes playing games in the winter more challenging than summer' games?
It’s purely down to the weather, for a lot of players it’s something that can' have a big impact on their game and the way they play when it’s wet and' cold.
Is there anything coaches and physios tell you to do to warm up more' ahead of a game on a cold day or night?
Yeah, on match days the physio always makes sure we do an extended' warm-up, usually for another five minutes or so. In cold weather your' muscles can sometimes feel like they’re fully warm, but they’re not as' warmed up as they need to be – and that’s how you can pick up injuries.
Are there any aspects of playing in winter that you enjoy more than' summer?
Personally, I prefer playing in the summer – purely because of the better' weather. But, if it’s for football you don’t mind what the weather is!
You’re wearing the new Nike Pro Combat Baselayer today, how important' has a good baselayer like that become in your kitbag on match day?
I’ve worn them with England a few times now – I haven’t worn the volt one' that I’m wearing today yet – but I’ve worn the white ones in internationals and they’re really good when it’s very cold.
Do you prefer wearing yours with long or short sleeve shirts?
I prefer the short sleeve shirt with long-sleeve Nike Pro Combats.
You’ve worn the Mercurial Vapor for a long time now, what’s your take' on the Vapor IX’s you’re wearing at the moment?
The Mercurials keep getting better, and in terms of comfort and fit,' particularly straight out of the box, the Vapor IX is definitely the best yet.
How do you fancy the new Hi-Vis colourway?
They’re really good for making you stand out; I’m definitely liking wearing' them at the moment.
Choosing the right boots has a big impact on performance in wintery' weather – when do you decide if you’ll play a game in soft or firm ground?
I try to get a sense of it during the week, but it’s something I’ll decide on on' match day. I’ll usually check out the pitch about 45 minutes before kick-off' to see how the turf is and to make sure I get my preparation right for the' game.
What were your first ever boots?
My first boots were actually Nike, I had them for about a year when I first' started playing – I don’t remember what they were, but I went straight into' a pair of Total 90s when they came out.
What it was like being part of the squad that beat Poland to take England' to the World Cup?
I was really surprised to get the call up, but I’m always happy to go and gain' experience.
It’s a huge thing to be a part of the squad and be around the' players in the senior team, and to be part of that this time was a really good' experience.
What do you feel you need to do to get a seat on the plane to Rio?
Hopefully, just stay in the Liverpool squad, stay fit and get into the starting' line-up!
Raheem Sterling wears the Nike Hi-Vis Collection for ultimate performance in the winter months.
The Collection’s bright and contrasting colour combinations allow athletes to stand out on-pitch, whilst technical innovations in footwear and apparel optimise comfort, temperature regulation and fit. Available from' www.nike.com