Get your soccer team to stretch

Players’ muscles need to be looked after no matter if you’re coaching a youth soccer team or older players. If a muscle is not warmed up it can lead to an injury and a long spell on the touchline.

Beware of over-stretching cold muscles

Most injuries in soccer occur when players overstretch part of their body. So if one of your young players kicks a ball at full knee extension, his hamstring will be fully extended.

If he has to stretch through the muscle’s natural barrier – the point at which a muscle starts to resist movement – and his muscle isn’t properly warmed up, an in-built stretch reflex could engage causing a jerk or contraction just when the tissues are at their most extended.

The result? A torn muscle that could take up to six weeks to fully recover.

Important muscles for a soccer player

The hamstring muscles are found at the back of the thigh, above the knee and just below the buttock.

Hamstrings assist in flexing the knee joint and also work to extend the hip joint. Rotation of the lower leg when the knee is bent is accomplished by hamstring muscles. In addition to this, hamstrings act to slow the body down and break or reverse direction after a run. They also act to help keep the trunk properly aligned.

How to stretch in warm-up drills

  • Stand and bend over with knees straight
  • Reach toward toes or floor or bring torso toward legs. Hold stretch.
  • Keep knees straight by tensing quadriceps. Spine may be kept straight. Pelvis may be tilted forward to intensify stretch.

Click here for a soccer warm-up drill that focuses on the hamstrings.

To order a copy of The Ultimate Soccer Warm-Ups Manual, click here.

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