Soccer Flexibility Training

Elvis Elvis

Soccer flexibility not only helps prevent injury but also allows player to improve both technical and athletic performance.

Increased soccer flexibility reduces muscle tightness and results in less muscle tears because the elasticity of the muscles has increased allowing a greater range of motion.

This is only one of many injury prevention attributes to improved flexibility. There is more however to flexibility than prevention.

On the more positive side soccer flexibility training can result in greater speed and power across the ground as muscles apply force over a larger range of motion. This helps with players ability to jump higher and greater reach when going into tackle opponents.

Research has shown that soccer players have poor flexibility in comparison with other athletes despite the benefits below. And yes, as a soccer player you should consider yourself an athlete.

Soccer Flexibility Training Benefits

If you as a player have a greater range of flexibility then there is a possibility that you will be less prone to muscle tightness.

This increased range of motion also makes muscle tears less likely increasing a players playing and training time.

Posture is improved resulting in prevention of back pain and improved posture. – this can add a could of inches to your vertical jump.

Reduction in the common complaints of knee pain due to increased blood flow through the joints. This increase in tissue temperature within the knee joints reduces the likelihood of cartilage damage.

Soccer Flexibility Training

The Three Types of Soccer Flexibility

Dynamic Flexibility

Dynamic flexibility is the ability to perform a full range of motion across the full range of motion around the joint. If, for instance, you were to kick a ball as high off the ground as possible this would be a measure of your dynamic flexibility of your hamstring and your hip extensors.

The higher you can the kick the higher your dynamic flexibility. Areas during a game where this is tested to the maximum are kicking the ball and stretching for the ball.

Static-Passive Flexibility

Static passive flexibility is the ability to hold a stretch such as when a player is lunging for the ball or suddenly twisting to change direction.

Static passive flexibility is key to prevention of muscle tears for over stretching. Static Active Flexibility is the ability to stretch one muscle only using another. This is fairly uncommon in soccer.

An example of this is when a player tries to volley a ball side on. The hamstring is being stretched when you strike the ball but it is actually the quads which are holding the leg in position

So there are only three types of flexibility. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there are more than twice that when it comes to the type of stretching you can do.

I won’t go into the various types but what a player does need to know is that Dynamic Stretching and Static Stretching are the most important types to incorporate into your soccer flexibility training.

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching is the common stretching carried out by soccer players during a warm up before training and pre match. Dynamic stretching is a gradual increase in the movement of the legs etc during the normal motion of the joints.

In terms of warm ups this is usually carried out with high leg movements while on the jog or twisting while on the jog. The idea is that you stretch further as you progress through the warm up.

An important tip is to keep the movement smooth and controlled to prevent muscle pulls resulting in lost conditioning time. This is more likely to happen if warm up stretching drills are performed in a jerky fashion.

To get the very best out of your soccer flexibility training it is important to combine dynamic stretching with the more traditional static stretching.

Static Stretching

There are two types here. Static stretching is stretching the muscle without moving the limb which for most players will be akin to traditional stretches when a player pulls his heel to stretch his quad. There is no movement occurring and the muscle stretches.

The second type is static passive stretching which can be a simple as bending down to touch your toes to stretch hamstrings or using the ground to rest your heel while you stretch your groin area.

The jury is still out on this type of stretching but latest research suggests that any type of static stretching, passive or otherwise, should be carried out after a match or training session. This is when player’s muscles are warm and more susceptible to stretching. This helps prevent injury.

As we have said static stretching should happen post match so what should a player do for a warm up. The best warm up a player can perform is an increased aerobic work out. Gradually increase the pace to get the players warmed up. Preferably with the ball. During the aerobic warm up introduce dynamic stretching exercises.

So the General rule of thumb is dynamic stretching during the warm up and static stretching during the warm down after a session or match.