10 Stretching Exercises for Soccer Players

Soccer is a demanding sport that requires strength, agility, endurance, and flexibility. If you play soccer, warming up and cooling down with the right stretching exercises can have a variety of benefits no matter what your skill level.

Why Stretching Is Important

Stretching is an extremely crucial aspect of any athletic activity. A warm-up that includes dynamic stretching allows the muscles to warm up and get prepared for the physical activity that they are about to perform. Static stretching routines are best done at the end of the workout or competition and allow the muscles to move through the full range of motion when they are warm and relaxed.

Doing the right stretching moves at the right time can greatly help to reduce the risk of sustaining many of the most common soccer injuries (including pulls, tears, and even cramping) while helping athletes maintain a full range of motion around the joints they use most. Proper stretching can also help speed recovery after exercise.

Learning how to stretch correctly is fairly straight-forward, but many athletes have never taken the time to learn the basics of a quality static stretching program. These basics include doing a variety of balanced stretches, moving slowly through the full range of motion, and holding the stretch for about 15 to 30 seconds. It's important to release slowly as well.

When to Stretch

When to stretch has been the topic of debate for some time, but the basic recommendation is to perform static stretching after exercise. It's also recommended that athletes perform a warm-up that includes some light activity, such as jogging, jumping jacks, jump rope, and a dynamic stretching routine for five to 10 minutes before beginning more intense athletic activity.  

1

hip flexor psoas stretch
hip flexor psoas stretch. BraunS/E+/Getty Images

The hip flexors are a group of muscles that bring the legs up toward the trunk and help generate a powerful soccer kick. They play a large role in soccer and other field sports ​and must be stretched properly.

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2

standing quad stretch
standing quad stretch. Cultura/Mike Tittel/Riser/Getty Images

The quadriceps (quads) make up a group of muscles along the front of the thigh. These muscles are the powerful muscles used in sprinting and kicking and they are often prone to fatigue and severe cramping. The standing quad stretch is a simple stretch you can do virtually anywhere while standing.

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3

Woman leaning against store front and stretching her calf
Johner Images/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

The calf, or gastrocnemius, muscle runs along the back of your lower leg and is in constant use while running up and down the soccer field. Muscles in the calves can become easily fatigued, and can also pull or tear in unfortunate situations. Because of this, stretching your calves before any athletic activity is extremely important.

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4

Eye of the Needle Pose
Ann Pizer

There are many different ways to stretch the piriformis muscle that lies deep beneath the gluteus (butt) muscles. This exercise is easy to do and is a quick way to relax and open the hips and target the piriformis muscle. Don't forget to stretch both sides.

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5

Woman Doing Yoga Sitting On Wooden Plank Near Railings
Lucie Wicker / Getty Images

This simple stretch, sometimes called the butterfly stretch, is a great stretch for soccer players. It works to stretch several muscles in the thigh and groin area.

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6

Hip and Lower Back Stretch
Hip and Lower Back Stretch. Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

This simple stretch opens the hips as it stretches the muscles of the hips, groin, and lower back. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and switch sides and repeat.

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7

The iliotibial (IT) band is a tough group of fibers that run along the outside of the thigh that stabilizes the joints. This area may become irritated from overuse or tightness, so it's extremely important to stretch it out prior to strenuous activity. The standing IT band stretch is a quick way to target the IT band.

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8

Group of people stretching on mats
Hero Images/Getty Images

The hamstrings need to be strong but not tight in order to endure the demands of running and kicking and multiple quick starts and stops during a soccer game. This simple hamstring stretch can help maintain length in the hamstrings.

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9

young female runner stretching her legs
Kathrin Ziegler / Getty Images

The Achilles tendon may be prone to injury if it's tight, weak, or fatigued. Use this stretch to keep it loose. The key to doing this stretch correctly is to bend the knee of the forward foot while keeping your heel on the ground. The stretch should be felt in the Achilles tendon, just above the heel.

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10

Woman preparing for training
Westend61 / Getty Images

This basic shoulder stretch can help open the chest and loosen tight shoulders before playing soccer.

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