‘I’m a Professional Women’s Soccer Player, and This Is What My Rest Day Looks Like As I Prepare for the World Cup’

Photo: Getty Images/Mat Hayward for Icy Hot
When you’re a member of the United States Women's National Soccer Team (USWNT), your recovery days include a lot more than lying horizontal on the couch.

I got a chance to see this firsthand when I spent a rest day with USWNT midfielder Rose Lavelle in Seattle. As the world eagerly anticipates the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer, her team is in full training mode as they prepare in hopes of taking home a third consecutive trophy. They’re giving their all during practice sessions for one to three hours a day, five to six times a week. Yet recovery is just as important.

“In high school and college I played as much soccer as I possibly could and played on as many teams as I could,” Lavelle shared with me. But things are different now, with a focus on nutrition, various forms of active recovery, and mental preparation.

“Today, rest is vital and I can’t play as much as I did as the load is so much more,” she says. “Now it’s a balance, and I have to prioritize the off-field piece and everything that I’m doing to help best prepare my body to be able to perform on the field.”

Here’s what a rest day of one of the most talented soccer players in the country actually looks like.

9 a.m.: Wake up

A big part of rest for Lavelle is ample sleep. “On the West Coast, I get up at 9 a.m.—that’s early for me,” she says, adding that if she could, she’d sleep until 11. “Sleep is part of rest and recovery and important for my job.”

9:30 a.m.: Breakfast

While many go to bed dreaming about what they’ll be eating the next day, this isn’t the case for Lavelle, who keeps things simple with a plain bagel. “I like to have something light like a bagel so I can have some carbs but not feel too full when training.”

She also loves a cold brew—sans alternative milk. “I don’t mess around with anything but full-cream milk,” she shared with me while we waited in line for our drinks at Café Hagen.

10 a.m.: Movement

Shortly after breakfast, the Cincinnati native makes a point to get in some movement. “I like to get my legs moving in some way cause being a blob the whole day doesn’t make me feel great,” she says. While she doesn’t count steps or miles, she enjoys going on a walk or a bike ride. “The goal is to just get my heart rate going and activate my muscles for the rest of the day.”

12 p.m.: Lunch

Lavelle’s high school days may have seen her rolling up to practice with a large Dr. Pepper and a Big Mac, but things are slightly different now.

“I’ll usually get a mixed fruit smoothie or smoothie bowl or make one at home with whatever fruit and yogurt I have,” says Lavelle. A Chiptole bowl is another go-to for sustenance, and what we enjoyed for lunch together when I visited. “It is everything I need to fuel me after a workout or on an off day.” For a quick on-the-go snack, you might also see the star enjoying a GoGo Squeez fruit pouch.

2 p.m.: Reformer Pilates, stretching, massages, and/or therapy

While each recovery day brings something new, Lavelle knows the importance of listening to her body and responding to its needs. She spends the afternoons of her recovery days taking care of herself in whatever way she's craving.

On the day we spent together, that included a 30-minute Pilates class on the reformer (which seriously tested our core strength—or at least mine). This has become a regular part of her schedule as Lavelle has fallen in love with reformer Pilates over the past few years. “I do two to three one-on-one sessions a week so I can have all the attention to focus specifically on the muscles I need to strengthen,” she says.

Stretching is also an essential part of Lavelle’s recovery day. After Pilates, Lavelle’s trainer Dak Notestine took us through her seven-minute routine that she does before every training session as well as during her daily stretching at home.

“This specific routine helps to strengthen the upper and lower legs to help the knee,” he says, which is relevant following Lavelle’s recent knee injury. Starting with a foam roller, Lavelle warms up the sensory tissues in the ankles before moving to the hips and upper thighs. From there she moves onto dynamic stretches like swimmers, cat-cow, and mermaid leg raises, before finishing with resistance bands around her upper knees to work on balance and strengthen her hips.

Lavelle also makes it a point to apply Icy Hot PRO recovery products (her favorite is the dry spray) to relieve strained muscles and joints after training sessions as well as on rest days. She’s even an Icy Hot ambassador.

In addition to looking after her physical health, the bronze-winning Olympian also prioritizes her mental health with daily meditation, visualization, journaling, and sessions with her sports psychologist when needed. “My confidence comes in ebbs and flows, so having a sports psych has been a huge part of my professional career,” she says. For Lavelle, her introduction to sports psychology came after a year-long break due to a hamstring injury. “Anybody that goes through a long-term injury or just any injury in general, it's hard physically. However, it felt 10 times harder mentally coming back from it. My psychologist helps me keep my head above water.”

6:30 p.m.: Dinner

While not a foodie or fan of cooking, a meal of carbs, protein, and vegetables is something Lavelle prioritizes. “Protein is crucial to help restore the tissue that got beat up in the training session or match,” says Notestine. He adds that he encourages Lavelle to add high-quality carbohydrate whole grains like rice and quinoa, too. When on the road, dinner is taken care of by the National Team chefs; otherwise, she makes sure to get her body a nutritious, balanced meal herself.

9:00 p.m.: Reading and bed

It’s still on the relatively early side when Lavelle crawls into bed, and enjoys a few chapters and a few hours of a book. “I always have a book with me and try to find time whenever I can to read, which is usually before bed,” she says. “Right now, I’m in a fantasy era and I’m having so much fun with it.” The day ends with some more sleep. “I aim for eight hours a night which gives my mind and body the proper recovery I need.”

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