In sports, one unfortunate event can be the “be-all, end-all” of a player´s career. A bad referee may last a game. The weather can change in a matter of hours. The impact of an injury, however, can last a lifetime.
Maintaining a squad of healthy and fit players is a top priority for teams at any level of play. Their success depends on it.
To get the most out of their bodies and game, players should take certain steps to help prevent injury and maintain peak fitness. As the Head Fitness Coach at Sporting Kansas City, Mateus Manoel specializes in this.
It Starts with the Warm-Up
According to Manoel, activities that raise the body´s temperature, such as shuffling and skipping, are the best ways to prepare the body to play.
Contrary to traditional practice and belief, holding stretches for a long time, also known as stagnant stretching, does not sufficiently warm the body up for physical activity.
“You don´t actually want to do stagnant stretching before playing because it decreases the neuro drive that muscles can put out. You want to do dynamic stretches,” Manoel says.
Injury Prevention in Youths
A good warm-up helps players across the board stay safe. Undoubtedly, as Sporting KC players and youths are at different stages in their physical growth, the types of injuries they are susceptible to and therefore must prevent are different.
“With the pros, it is a lot of chronic issues that have built up over time and because their bodies are also aging. They are more susceptible to soft tissue injuries like groin and hamstring pulls,” Manoel says.
As youths have not been playing for as long or as often as the Sporting KC first team players, the issues are more joint-related. “We do not typically see as many soft tissue injuries with the kids,” Manoel says. “Ankle sprains and ACL tears in the girls are the most common injuries.”
To prevent joint injuries, a proper warm up with dynamic exercises goes without saying. Additionally, just after a teen hits puberty, he or she should start doing resistance training, such as weight lifting, to provide the joints with more muscle support.
Specifically, when working to prevent ACL tears, athletes should practice moving in space and learn to accelerate and make cuts without their knees caving in.
Avoid the Heat
Injuries are not the only threats in sport safety. With the sum-
mer months and a variety of soccer summer camps coming up, heat related illnesses are a big concern.
Sporting Kansas City trains earlier in the day to avoid the heat. When training earlier is not an option, avoiding direct sunlight, staying off of the heat-radiating turf and drinking as much cold water as possible is necessary.
In essence, to stay safe when playing soccer, the Sporting KC philosophy of “Work + Rest = Success” hits home the quintessential ideology that players at all levels should adapt.
Sporting Kansas City Summer Soccer Camps
Sporting Kansas City offers a series of summer soccer camps for both boys and girls of all age groups, positions and skill levels. These are the only camps in the region directly operated by two time MLS Cup Champions. All players are trained by professional Sporting KC Academy coaching staff members. These camps are designed to develop overall technical and tactical playing ability, and build a love for the game. All kids will leave camp learning to #PlayTheSportingWay. Visit sportingkc.com/youth/camps for more information.