Soccer: Proper Training to Prevent Injuries

soccerSoccer is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. The game is played in two, fast-paced 45-minute halves, with a short 15-minute halftime. The playing field (typically 70-80 yards wide by 110-120 yards long) is significantly larger than football and lacrosse fields. Players need to be properly conditioned to withstand the game length, field size and strenuous movements that include sprinting, running and jogging in all directions – all while dribbling a ball with their feet.

To meet the rigorous physical demands of the sport, it is important to train appropriately. Proper conditioning is essential to achieve the speed, flexibility, strength, agility, power and endurance to succeed and – more importantly – prevent injuries. Below are some basic types of training to consider:

Endurance Training
Athletes need a solid aerobic base to build endurance. Simply running laps is not enough. It is best to start with low intensity conditioning, like jogging or cycling, for extended durations. As endurance improves, add interval training, which combines low and high intensity workouts with ongoing distance training. To achieve maximum aerobic capacity, incorporate sprints with twists/turns in all directions around cones for short duration while engaged in specific soccer skills, like dribbling.

Strength Training
Just as important as endurance is the development of a good strength base. This ongoing training should focus on establishing muscular balance and dynamic core (abdominal/gluteal) stability. Soccer players often over develop quads at the expense of their hamstrings, which can lead to injury. Ground-based exercises such as squats and lunges are preferred for strength development due to their functional nature and carry over to specific soccer skills.

Once you have established a good strength base, it is time to develop speed – after all, an overriding goal of soccer is to get to the ball first). Also known as “sprint training,” workouts should include specific movements such as lateral, shuttle and backwards running, as well as jumping and dribbling through cones.

Power (or explosiveness) is a combination of speed and strength and is a necessary component for soccer success. Power is generated through rapid, forceful contraction of muscles – a dangerous muscle movement if you have not developed the necessary strength. Plyometric training, such as jumping from the ground to an elevated platform repeatedly, is a good way to increase power safely over time.

Flexibility is often overlooked, but it is imperative to both injury prevention and recovery. To increase flexibility, bookend your workout with a dynamic warm up and cool down. Activities such as walking lunges and high knee lifts help to stretch and warm muscles correctly.

Proper conditioning that incorporates these five key elements will help to prevent injuries on the soccer field. If an injury does occur, consult a physical therapist. He or she will help you get back in the game!

For more information, call 1-888-44-REHAB (73422) or contact us online today.

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