While it is impossible to avoid getting injured 100% while playing soccer, since you can’t control the actions of other players and accidents can always happen, there are a number of precautions you can take to help reduce the likelihood of suffering an injury.
The most important thing to do to avoid injuries is to stretch properly. This may seem obvious, but the number of players who don’t stretch properly before a game is astonishing. You need to stretch every muscle properly before taking to the field to avoid tearing or pulling a muscle; especially your hamstrings (just ask Fernando Torres!).
Suffering a muscle tear or pull can put players out for a number of months yet it can easily be avoided if you perform routine stretching exercises during warm ups and cool downs, before and after training and matches.
Before stretching, be sure to get your body and the muscles warm, so it is advised to go for a short jog before stretching. Some players like to stretch while taking a sauna as the heat relaxes their muscles and allows them to get a better, deeper stretch.
Keeping hydrated before, during and after is also very important for avoiding injuries. Drinking water and sports drinks help relax your muscles and prevent you from feeling stiff after a tough game.
You also need to build muscle strength to reduce your chances of suffering an injury. Studies have shown that the most common injuries suffered by soccer players are in the knees, ankles, hamstrings and groin. Exercises such as lunges and single toe raises as well as plyometric exercises like shuttle runs and single leg hops are the best for building strength in these parts of the body and preventing injury.
Another obvious but vital tip to avoid getting injured is to wear proper fitting boots. Wearing boots that are ill fitting or too tight, while feeling terribly uncomfortable can also cause serious and lasting damage to the arches of your foot which will affect your mobility later on in life.
When buying a pair of soccer boots, be sure to take time in choosing the right pair of boots for you and also be sure to mold them properly to your feet. Also good maintenance of your boots is required. Make sure that the studs, if they are screw-ins, are tight and none are missing. A missing stud can throw off your balance and put you at a higher risk of injury.
Wearing shin guards is another way to avoid injuries. Many players are so determined to get the ball that they can swing frantically at it, often catching the other player rather than the ball with their kicks. Wearing shin guards can absorb the impact from kicks and tackles and play a crucial part in preventing broken bones.
It is also worth paying attention to weather forecast so that you can be properly prepared to play in any weather. If conditions are expected to be wet and slippy, wear a pair of boots that you know have a good, strong grip to avoid slipping. Boots with screwed in studs are better for these conditions. Also, be aware of the temperature that is expected as the warmer it is, the more frequently you’ll need to hydrate yourself.
Players should also try to avoid over training. While everyone wants to be at their peak, less is often sometimes more. If you train while you are not 100% and are feeling fatigued or tired, there is a higher risk of injury as your body is not at full strength. Try to listen to your body and when needs be, give it a rest. Taking one night off from training is much better than getting injured and being forced to watch from the sidelines for months.
Following these tips won’t guarantee that you’ll never get injured but they will at least reduce this risk of injury.