There are many advantages of playing different sports, among them is being healthy and fit. Group sports entice a lot of people for it helps to make friends and instills team spirit. Due to the many advantages, it is seen that a number of people have turned towards sports to keep themselves fit, physically and mentally. However, along with reaping benefits of sports, one will also have to take protective measures to reduce the risk of injuries. In this write-up, we will concentrate on preventing injuries while playing soccer. Although physical contact between players is not a planned part of the game, the contact is inevitable during a sport like soccer. The injuries can range from minor to major.
If one has to look at the sports from the spectators point of view, it may not necessarily seem to be a sport where one can be seriously injured. This can be attributed to the fact that there are some players who have mastered the art of gliding through the matches without any physical contact with other players. However, this is true for very few players as most of them have suffered cuts and bruises or have crashed into the ground or have bounced off due to a collision with another player. Hence, safety precautions to be taken while playing soccer have gained immense importance.
Prevention of Soccer Injuries
In soccer, there is a sudden and quick change of direction which leads to contact with the other players. At times, some players can become reckless. Therefore, safety measures have to be in place to protect the player.
Using Protective Gear
The soccer equipment has an important role to play in preventing soccer injuries. If one observes the players when they are on the field, it will be noticed that very few players will have taken the pains to wear the entire set of necessary protective gear. However, to protect oneself from injuries, it makes sense to wear the complete set of protective soccer gear.
Soccer Shoes: Soccer shoes are available in three types, namely molded cleats, ribbed soles, and screw-in cleats. It is recommended that one opts either for molded cleats or ribbed soles. The use of screw-in cleats should be limited and should be used when one is playing in a wet field or on a field with tall grass in it. It is often seen that players do not use the right-sized soccer shoes. Using the right-sized shoes will help in minimizing injuries to a good extent.
Shin Guard: It is seen that shins are the most injured part of the body in a soccer match. The shin guard helps in preventing the common soccer injury, namely the injured shin bone. They protect the legs up to the knees. They can be bought in plastic, rubber, and other forms. Often socks are used to cover the shins which lends necessary protection to the lower legs.
Mouthguard: Other than leg injuries, it is the dental injuries that are commonly seen in soccer. Although it is not mandatory to wear a mouthguard, it is recommended that one wears mouth guards to prevent orofacial injuries. This will also help in protecting the other players from concussions, in case of a collision.
Goalie Gear: Goalies are prone to injuries, therefore, they will have to wear the goalie gear to protect themselves from soccer balls, kicks, collisions, etc. Equipment is also available to protect the wrist, hand, and fingers, which can get severely injured when the goalie is trying to prevent the soccer ball from making its way into the goal post. The clothes a goalie wears should have light padding, so that the other parts of the body are protected as well.
Protecting Yourself and Others
In all the excitement of playing soccer, soccer players often do not inspect the soccer field before taking to it. Making sure the field does not have holes or any other obstacle which can cause injury is important. Obstacles, if any, should be stored away from the field to keep injuries at bay.
The goal post should be well padded to prevent head injuries caused by possible and accidental collision with the post. Although goal posts are firmly entrenched in the ground, it is important to lock the posts so that it does not trip on the players.
It is the duty of the coaches to make sure that all the rules of the game are followed, while the game is being played. At the same time, it is the duty of each player to make sure that he adheres to the rules of the game. It will not only help in preventing injuries to other players but also to oneself. One of the rules followed by most of the leagues is not to use the sliding tackles from behind. This has caused serious injuries in the past, therefore, it has been prohibited.
Care should be taken when one is using heading techniques. There have been many injuries when a player has tried to head the ball and hurt another player in the process. It can also lead to neck injuries due to the impact. Along with head and neck injuries, one has to make sure that one protects the teeth, mouth, and tongue while heading the ball.
Along with taking care when one is heading the ball, one should be careful and avoid head-on collisions. The first precautionary measure that has to be taken is not to charge down the field without paying attention to the position and movements of other players. The next measure is to keep the head up and always be attentive of the players from your team as well as from the opposing team.
Some Essentials Not To Be Overlooked
Now is the time to check the measures that have to be taken to avoid personal injuries during soccer. The first measure that is to be taken is to maintain the fitness levels. If one is not at the optimum fitness level, the chances of injuries rise incredibly. One must have a fitness program in place, which will include aerobic exercise along with strength training. The other aspect of the fitness program is flexibility. If one has not trained in a long time, it is best to increase the training period gradually. This will help in building up the fitness levels.
Stretching is an important part of the fitness regime, which is a 'must do' part of the precautions to be taken when one is playing soccer. However, it is commonly seen that most players do not stretch before as well as after the game. When the muscles are stretched properly, tearing and pulling of ligaments and muscles are prevented. Hence, stretching has to be a part of the warm-up as well as cool-down. However, before you stretch before a practice or a game, it is important that you warm up the muscles a little. If the muscles are cold, it increases the chances of injury manifold.
Dehydration is often the cause of muscles cramps. Therefore, it is important that the player is well hydrated. However, it does not mean that one gulps down huge quantities of water at one go. Water should be consumed by sipping small quantities. Often, dehydration causes cramps. In case of a cramp, it is best that the player leaves the field and comes back only after the cramping feeling has subsided completely.
Following basic soccer ethics will go a long way in preventing soccer injuries. Here is a list of DOs and DON'Ts:
- Passing negative or personal comments about the players from the opposing team can insinuate a verbal battle, which in turn can turn physical and violent. Hence, it is necessary that one refrains from passing any hurtful comments.
- Often fights between team members ensue because a particular player does not pay attention to the spirit of the game. At the end of the day, it is important to note that one is after all playing only a game. Avoid cheating in the game. When a match is lost, you will learn from the mistakes, which will help in improving your game to a large extent, rather than cheating and winning the game.
- As a sports player, each soccer player should have and display sportsman spirit, which is the most important soccer etiquette. This should clearly be evident in case of a defeat. Defeat should be accepted with dignity. It is important that the opponent team is congratulated on their win. While accepting the congratulatory wishes, the winning team members should refrain from taunting the members of the opposing team and remember it is 'just' a game.
- Players should avoid getting into brawls on the field as well as off the field. Often it is small spats which become ugly. All that happens on the soccer field is best left there itself.
In spite of taking all the required soccer safety precautions, accidents are bound to happen given the nature of the game. Hence, it is important to have first aid kits handy in case of an untoward accident so that the basic treatment can be handed out to the player before he gets proper medical attention. Last but not the least, it is the duty of the players to protect themselves and the other players during the game of soccer and avoid any untoward incident.