How you protect yourself
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Football. like most competitive sports, is inherently risky, but you as a player can take precautions against injury or re-injury. Consider this:

  • Poor flexibility and muscle tightness are risk factors in muscle and tendon injuries. In football players, the groin, hip flexors and the flexor muscles that help you point your toe up are often tight. Therefore pay particular attention to regularly stretch these problem areas.

  • Ankle sprains often occur during tackling meaning that technique as well as fair play play a role. About half the players with ankle sprains had a prior sprain, many within the same season. The risk of a second ankle sprain increases by 3-5 times. Most footballers see a sprained ankle as a nuisance, but returning to play too soon places you at a clear risk for another, possibly more serious, injury to the ankle or elsewhere. It is good advice to follow the doctor's and therapist's orders regarding rehabilitation. Protection of a sprained ankle (e.g. taping, lace-up ankle supports) for 6 months to a year or more is advisable for the unstable ankle. Do not to try to return to play too soon!

  • Knee ligaments, the anterior cruciate ligament in particular, seem to tear during landing, stopping or cutting in an erect position with straight knee and hip and a knock-kneed position. Female players: You need to learn how to lower the centre of your body mass and how to absorb the shock of landing by flexing the hips and knees. Ideally, you would learn this technique during puberty.

  • Low endurance is an injury risk. In youth and professionals alike, a major fraction of all injuries occurred in the last 10 to 15 minutes of a game. Many training injuries occur during pre-season when players are unfit. So you should arrive to training camp in shape, do not arrive in the camp to get in shape! Your coach will then improve your fitness specifically for the game so that you do not tire as much late in the game.

  • Football skill is also a factor in injury: Less skilled players suffer more injuries. Skill work may seem dull, but as a better skilled player you get less frequently injured.

  • Up to 50% of traumatic football injuries are due to foul play. The more skilled and more fit players are better able to avoid collisions between the defensive and the offensive player.

  • As a boy aged 11 to 14 you are at a special risk. The tall, less mature boy gets injured more often than the shorter, less mature or the taller more mature boy.

  • Shin guards are required in football. The most protective ones contain air/foam cell pads. As players get older, some even wear children's shin pads because they are small and light, but pass inspection by the referee. You can prevent lower leg contusion injuries by wearing age-appropriate shin guards!

  • Try to avoid head flicking the ball. Rather take a step back and control it with your chest or thigh. When throwing the ball into play, aim at the feet, thigh or chest of your team mates, not their heads. Either you or your defender are at risk of head injury when both are competing to head a throw-in.

  • Always use a ball appropriate for your age and have only players of the same age take real shots on the goal. Otherwise your goalkeeper may suffer a wrist fracture.

  • Never leave a goal unsecured. Portable goals which are left unsecured can tip over inuring players, in particular children and cause serious neck injuries or even a fatality. These injuries only occur during unsupervised play by children climbing on unsecured goals.