Injuries can happen at the worst possible times: shortly after the opening whistle of the first game of the season, at practice just before the championship game, or just as a player is hitting his or her stride. To reduce the chance of getting injured, keep the following nine tips in mind:
- Avoid using any gear that doesn’t fit your child well. Big/small cleats, shin guards, baggy shorts or old worn down cleats can increase the chance of various injuries. Be sure to get equipment that fits just right!
- Check field conditions every time they’re set to play. Be aware of any adverse field conditions, like holes, sprinkler heads, bumps, etc., and remove any foreign objects from the field before playing.
- Be wary of goal posts that look flimsy or aren’t fixed to the ground. To avoid injuries that can be caused be goal posts, be sure that they are secured before playing.
- Stay in shape. Injuries are far more likely for athletes who aren’t physically prepared when the season starts.
- Take it one step at a time. When coming back from injury or inactivity, activities like aerobic conditioning, strength workouts and agility sessions will go a long way in helping build a strong body that’s more resistant to injuries.
- Listen to your body! Although playing soccer as much as possible is great to improve as a player, that doesn’t mean rigorous games or demanding training sessions every day are the way to go. Balance your play. Try something like juggling on off days or separating the overly physical workouts. Listen to your body and lower training intensity and frequency if pain arises.
- Consult with the experts. Talk to a trainer, physical therapist or sports medicine professional if you have any questions or concerns about particular injuries, need recovery tips or want to know how to avoid injuries.