Soccer training shouldn’t be only about focusing on endurance and skill develop. Though important elements of the sport, flexibility in soccer is an aspect that sometimes gets overlooked.
Look at it this way: The rigors of the sport can have you running at full speed one moment, and suddenly stopping within a spilt second. Your ability to decelerate at any given time without losing control of your body will give you a distinct advantage over your opponent.
That’s where increased flexibility comes into play. When your body bends in ways not accustom to, such as the sudden stop in one direction, the ability to slow down and react and readjust to the play, of course, without coming up injured, is paramount.
Also, greater flexibility can add power to your kick, allowing for further leg recoil when hip flexor and quadricep (a group of four muscles located in the front of the leg) range of motion are at its best.
Here is a list of flexibility exercises to help improve flexibility and thus, may help prevent injuries.
Note: The following stretching program should be performed three to four times a week.
Long Adductor Stretch
Because of the quick directional change, you’ll often find yourself testing the groin area’s ability to stretch. So, I believe it’s a good idea to lengthen the groin region (hip adductor muscles—the adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus, gracilis, and pectineus) to allow you to roll with the sudden, fast movement, as well as prevent injury.
Hold for 30-40 seconds, and repeat 3-5 times.
Standing Quadricep Stretch (vastus intermedius, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis and rectus femoris).
As I mentioned before, increased quadricep flexibility will allow you to boot the soccer ball with more force and velocity.
Intent: This is an easy to accomplish exercise that stretches all four of the quadricep muscles.
Duration and Frequency: Hold for 15-20 seconds, and repeat 3-5 times while alternating each leg.
Hip Flexor Lunge Stretch – Iliopsoas (psoas major and the iliacus)
Intent: Stretch the Hip Flexor Muscles, which become tight due to the repetitive running motion.
Duration and Frequency:
Lying Hamstring Leg Stretch
Intent: Stretch the hamstrings, a three-muscle group in back of the leg that often gets injured because of the sudden stopping.
Note: You should be able to move forward a little more with each repetition.
Frequency: Repeat three to four times.
Supine Knee-to-Chest Stretch – Lower Back, Hip and Gluteal Area (Parts of the Core).
Due to the constant running at various speeds, the lower back tacks a pounding. So this flexibility exercise will loosen up that area along with the outer hip and gluteal regions.
Duration and Frequency: Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat three to five times, then stretch the opposite leg.
Core (lower back and abdominal muscles)
Your core muscles are the foundation for everything you do in soccer—from running to kicking. Therefore, keeping them loose, as well as strong, is an awesome idea, if I say so myself.
The Cobra Stretch – watch video
The cobra stretch is a core exercise that lengthens the abdominal muscles while mobilizing and releasing stiff joints in the hips and lower back regions.
Duration and Frequency:
Written by Jerry Del Priore for Bodono.
Jerry Del Priore has worked as a certified personal trainer, and received his degree in Physical Education from Brooklyn College in 1991. Jerry is also a veteran print and digital Sports Writer-Reporter-Author experienced in writing in-depth profile stories on a variety of high school, college and professional athletes and teams.
Additionally, Jerry has developed a presentation based on his book, Running Through Roadblocks, which encourages children to overcome obstacles and never give up…no matter what!
Specialties: Baseball, football, hockey and basketball writing. Jerry also has covered lacrosse, soccer, golf and track and field, with ample experience cover women’s sports. Jerry is also a Food Writer/Blogger experienced in venue write-ups and reviews.
In addition, Jerry has ample experience working with medically fragile children, children with behavioral challenges and children with cognitively impairments.
Read Jerry Del Prior’s book: Running Through Roadblocks and view his blog at www.Brooklynsportsworld.com.