How to prevent soccer injuries? Tips and Tricks 2023

There is nothing more annoying than an injury. Anybody that has played sports at a competitive level, sooner or later has encountered that issue. Sometimes they are minor and go away quickly. Other times, they are recurring and regularly create both physical and psychological setbacks. Whether it’s a sprained ankle or a pulled muscle, soccer players often find themselves sidelined due to these unfortunate accidents. In the nature vs. nurture discussion, we will not discuss the nature side or at least not try to influence it through genetic modifications or other mechanisms that are hard to explain. There are particular exercises to do and gear to use that will mostly get you there. Let’s look at the steps to prevent soccer injuries. 

Stay healthy: Exercises to prevent soccer injuries!

Soccer is a sport that requires agility, strength, and coordination. To prevent injuries, it is crucial to focus on improving these aspects of your game. One way to do this is by incorporating regular strength and conditioning exercises into your training routine. By strengthening your muscles, you can provide better support to your joints and reduce the risk of sprains and strains. Additionally, practicing balance and coordination drills can help improve your body’s stability, making it easier to stay on your feet and avoid falls.

These are particularly important for teenage players, as they go through growth spurts. They will have an imbalance of how fast their bones, muscles, and ligaments are growing. Furthermore, their muscle memory will lag their growth spurt, so they can look uncoordinated during this period. To counter that, we need to focus on the right practices to do every day and also the warmup drills before practices and games. 

Exercises to do each day (at home for 10 min)

Single leg squats – most of the injuries in soccer are in the lower extremities. We recommend starting with full squats and looking to target particular muscles over time. We often do only ankle exercises or attempt side steps to make sure that various muscles are used. It is a constant feedback loop that the body gives to see where it needs strengthening.

Back exercises – they can be planks for your core or Superman/swimmer exercises specifically targeting your lower back. We recommend interchanging these with the squats, so there is a good balance of activities and everything stays interesting.

Balance board – a fun exercise at home is to get a balance board and attempt to use it as part of your every day. For adults, that is during meetings at a standing desk or for watching TV. For younger kids, it should start with lower complexity and full focus, then over time make it more challenging and interesting.

Exercises to do before practice

If you have celebrated a birthday with two number-shaped candles and don’t have warm-up and cool-down routines, things need to change. Create a routine of running that you follow every time, then stretching, then dynamic exercises with the ball. This is an example of jogging, 30 seconds each:

  1. Forward
  2. Backward
  3. High knees jogging
  4. Sideways right first
  5. Sideways left first
  6. Hip opening steps
  7. Zig-zag running
  8. Half sprint to sprint

That way 4 minutes of running. Then we do the stretching which is similar to the squats and back exercises at home, but also some upper body part stretching. Finally, do the same jogging, but with a soccer ball. That all should take around 10-15 min and is all individual. We know that it can be boring, but it is just so important to do that.

For the cool-down routine, we like to do a similar routine, but we focus much more on stretching. In fact, we recommend at least half of the cool-down process be on stretching. Do them regularly, just as if they are part of the practice and games. It is good both for physical and mental health.

Get the right gear to prevent soccer injuries and still look good!

Gear for everyday

The absolute minimum is to have shin guards and some soccer tape in your backpack. Shin guards are a requirement for any serious game, as the worst sort of injuries come from not having them. There are several different types of shin guards, but whichever you get, make sure to have some. The soccer tape in this case is for keeping them tight and well-positioned. It can be frustrating to have them moving throughout the entire game on every sprint and will likely move when there might be a collision.

We also recommend wearing a mouthguard, especially as the players get into teenage years. Soccer can be rough and wearing a mouthguard is important. Particularly important is to wear the mouthguard if you have braces. A small injury can cause huge problems with the braces at this point and we have seen players going to the emergency that could have prevented with a simple mouthguard.

Of course, we would recommend getting the right layers of soccer clothes depending on the weather. However, one specific suggestion for soccer is to get protective soccer sliding shorts. If you start getting serious about soccer, you will need to get good quality protection, especially if you play as a goalkeeper or a defender. These sliding shorts can make the difference if you are out for a week or back the next day, we are serious about it. So, not everybody needs it, but if you are kind of player that do serious challenges and sliding tackles, get them.

Gear for a recurring injury

This is a big topic, so let’s summarize the advice – as your doctor for the right gear! We’ve seen players come with immobilized hands for injuries because it looks like they are doing something. However, this can be counterproductive if the muscles and the ligaments need blood flowing to heal. So don’t experiment and get the right gear to protect, but also enable you to get stronger. The advice will be different depending on the injury, but most of the time it would be to wear a gear that gives support to the area, but doesn’t affect the flexibility too much.

Get back on the field!

The best advice on how to prevent soccer injuries we can give is to be careful. It is a very hard psychological situation to feel strong and worry about an injury at the same time. For players that are fortunate, their first encounter is when they are old enough to handle it well. However, we don’t have to rely only on fortune. Firstly, the mindset is important to listen to our bodies and act accordingly. Secondly, it is to be prepared, both as something simple as having enough water and electrolytes, to getting the right gear and doing the appropriate warm-up and cool-down routines. Finally, it is about supporting each other and learn how to get into situations where we can progress. Have fun and see you on the field!