First the men's soccer World Cup came to the U.S. in 1994. Then the U.S. women's national soccer team won the World Cup in 1999. The most popular sport in the world is getting plenty of attention in the U.S. these days, and more Americans are playing soccer than ever.
Soccer is a great way to build endurance, improve speed, and promote fitness, all while enjoying the camaraderie of a team sport. Soccer is a relatively safe activity, with an injury rate of one-fifth to one-half of that in American football. But you can still get hurt. Soccer involves quick start-and-stop motions and physical contact, which can lead to injury.
Risk of injury is no reason to not play soccer. Soccer players just need to be aware of the risks and know what steps they can take to play as safely as possible.
Common soccer injuries include:
For athletes who have experienced a sports-related injury, UPMC Center for Sports Medicine’s orthopaedic surgeons and board-certified physical therapists will help to speed recovery and restore function.
Training Tips and Techniques
As with any sport, a good warm up is important to an injury-free soccer experience. Sports medicine experts recommend the following routine:
- Cardio: Start with a few laps to get your heart rate up.
- Stretching: Focus particularly on the lower body and hips, and don't forget to stretch your neck gently.
- Passing: Begin with short distance passing, and then move gradually to longer
- Shooting: Work up from lighter, shorter shots on net to harder shots.
- Sprinting: Include a few short distance sprints.
Finally, don't play if you are extremely tired and therefore more prone to injury. Hydration and good nutrition will help stave off early fatigue.
Individuals should consult a physician before beginning any kind of training or conditioning program.