Resources for Players
Soccer Drills on YouTube
Injury Prevention from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
Proper Preparation for Play
Maintain fitness. Be sure you are in good physical condition at the start of soccer season. During the off-season, stick to a balanced fitness program that incorporates aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility. If you are out of shape at the start of the season, gradually increase your activity level and slowly build back up to a higher fitness level.
Warm up. Always take time to warm up. Research studies show that cold muscles are more prone to injury. Warm up with jumping jacks, or running or walking in place for 3 to 5 minutes. Many warm-ups also include sport- or position-specific stretches. If your warm-up includes stretching, be sure to perform them slowly and gently, holding each stretch for 30 seconds. Ballistic, “bouncing” stretches are usually not recommended.
Cool down and stretch. Stretching at the end of practice is too often neglected because of busy schedules. Stretching can help reduce muscle soreness and keep muscles long and flexible. Be sure to stretch after each training practice to reduce your risk for injury.
Hydrate. Even mild levels of dehydration can hurt athletic performance. If you have not had enough fluids, your body will not be able to effectively cool itself through sweat and evaporation. A general recommendation is to drink 24 ounces of non-caffeinated fluid 2 hours before exercise. Drinking an additional 8 ounces of water or sports drink right before exercise is also helpful.
Ensure Appropriate Equipment
Wear shin guards to help protect your lower legs. Soccer tournament records show that lower leg injuries are most often caused by inadequate shin guards.
Wear shoes with molded cleats or ribbed soles. Shoes with screw-in cleats often are associated with a higher risk of injury. However, shoes with screw-in cleats should be worn when more traction is needed, such as on a wet field with high grass.
Safe Return to Play
An injured player's symptoms must be completely gone before returning to play. For example:
In case of a joint problem, the player must have no pain, no swelling, full range of motion, and normal strength.
In case of concussion, the player must have no symptoms at rest or with exercise, and should be cleared by the appropriate medical provider.