For any player, there is nothing worse than being sidelined due to injury, whilst coaches will also want their full compliment of individuals available to them when possible. However, with football having become an increasingly intense and demanding sport, more work is now required away from the training pitch and stadium in order to both maintain fitness and abstain from injuries. So, let’s take a look at just what players can do today in order to stay healthy.
The first step to preventing injuries is to perform a thorough warm-up, which will involve a range of exercises. A recent study by the British Medical Journal concluded that youth football teams that performed the FIFA11+ warm-up twice a week or more had 37% less training injuries, along with 29% fewer match injuries. A substantial warm-up can take as little as just 10 minutes to complete, with exercises mimicking in-game situations, including varying movements and speeds. No matter how pushed for time you are as a coach, no player should take to the field without having prepared properly, as this will only enhance the possibility of picking up an injury.
The way in which a player moves around the pitch can also have an effect upon the likelihood of them getting injured. As a result, it is important to aid the development of individuals in this area, especially for those who are already a little awkward. Coordination is key for any player, with the ability to move quickly in all directions being especially important when it comes to football. As well as this, players should aim not to place too much emphasis on a particular part of their body, making coordination and movement drills crucial as part of any training session.
Whilst we are certainly not suggesting that children are placed on a rigorous weight training programme from a young age, there are certainly some exercises that will support their strength development. Whilst balance drills will help players in their stability, strength training must also be incorporated, with programmes focusing upon all major muscle groups. Exercises including lunges, squats, push-ups and pull-ups will all aid strength development, which in turn helps to prevent injuries.
Both physical and mental recovery is needed in order to prevent injury too. Coaches must give players enough time between matches and training sessions to recuperate fully from what has gone before, with overexerting yourself also one of the main causes of injury. Away from the game, lack of sleep or stress can also decrease cognition and hinder decision-making processes.
Ultimately, coaches must address all of the areas discussed in this article in order to reduce the possibility of injury, doing so throughout the season and not just at selected times.
For youngsters, sport should really only be about one word, fun! However, ensuring that organised physical activity is enjoyable is easier said than done, with everyone having different personalities and needs in this area. So, just how can coaches ensure that they consistently put on engaging sessions?