6 Tips to Prevent Common Youth Soccer Injuries

Youth soccer’s popularity continues to skyrocket nationally with more than 3 million participants in 2014, with no signs of slowing down. Wake county is no exception with Wake FC growing quickly in Holly Springs due to their tremendous facilities and caring approach towards families, coaches, and player development. As soccer attracts more young athletes, soccer-related injuries would be expected to rise. Following these simple steps will help you (or your athlete) stay on the field.

Most soccer injuries occur in the 11-18 age range. These tips are primarily focused on them, but can be beneficial to soccer players of all ages. So here are 6 Tips to Prevent Common Youth Soccer Injuries.

1. Start out with a dynamic warm up

Instead of the traditional “stretch and hold” techniques, dynamic warm ups incorporate common soccer movements into the warm up. FIFA Marc 11+ is a proven system and their website has outstanding videos for players and coaches. Teams that performed this dynamic warm up at least twice per week had 30-50% fewer injured players.

2. Prevent traumatic knee injuries

For females, knee injuries are more likely – especially the ACL tear. The vast majority of ACL tears are NON-CONTACT and there are proven methods to prevent ACL tears. The Santa Monica Sports Medicine Foundation’s Pep Program is an excellent warm up program that has shown a 75-85% ACL tear reduction in females when they perform it 3x/week. Jump training programs (link to BIA website) should be sought out for off-season training to train proper landing and change of direction strategies.

3. Eliminate overuse injuries

Common overuse injuries include hip, knee, and foot/ankle pain. Many overuse injuries result from overtraining or from athletes mobility or strength deficits. If pain persists, it may be time to see a sports physical therapist. You can try these 3 key things to prevent overuse injuries:

  • Boost hip strength
    • Hip strength is required to control movement at the knee and ankle. Our own Amanda Flowers and Amanda Street from CrossFit FV created this video to give you some tips on hip strength. <
  • Improve hip and ankle mobility
    • Increasing range of motion and mobility are just as important as getting stronger. Follow the links for some great resources on boosting hip and ankle mobility
  • Be aware of overtraining or playing on multiple teams at the same time, this is especially true for athletes who play on club and school teams. Pre-season training is also important to prepare for the demands of the season.

4. Ensure cleats and shin guards fit properly

Poorly fitting cleats and shin guards can cause blisters, ankle sprains, and shin bruising. Severs disease (heel pain) is common among male athletes between 10-13 years old and can be resolved with orthotics designed for soccer cleats (link to BIA).

5. Hydrate properly

Proper hydration is critical to maintain performance and prevent heat illness. Just a 2% dehydration rate can result in a 10% performance deficit. Tournament weekends increase risk. Pre-hydration and Rehydration are critical so follow these guidelines. If the athlete still struggles with muscle cramping, contact a sports medicine specialist.

6. Use active recovery and rest to stay in the game

Recovery and rest are just as important as the training itself. Effective recovery methods include stretching, soft tissue massage like rolling, following a healthy sleep schedule, light aerobic exercise, swimming, relaxation techniques, and proper nutrition. After the season is over, it is important to take some time away from the sport to let your body and your mind rest.

We hope this tips help you or young soccer player to stay on the field and maximize their ability. Please let us know if you have any soccer-related injury concerns as we specialize in this area. Have fun!

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