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The 10 Best Stretches for Soccer Players

One thing all soccer players can agree on is the importance of stretching. Flexibility plays a vital role in helping athletes play their best soccer. With all the running, cutting, and kicking in soccer, flexibility can be the difference maker in how well you play.

Luckily for you, we’ve compiled the ten best stretches for soccer players to do before stepping on the field. These stretches will keep your muscles loose and enable full mobility within the legs and hips, helping you prevent nasty injuries that can occur on the turf. Are you ready? Let’s get started!

Why Stretching is Important for Soccer

Soccer players don’t stop running and the game itself is very physical. You’ll be lucky if you don’t run into an opponent during your playtime. Your muscles will be moving in every direction and if they aren’t able to extend to their full range of motion, there’s a good chance you’ll get hurt. Stretching helps warm the muscles up and ensure that they’re ready to go when you start running.

Furthermore, the importance of stretching becomes more pronounced during the late stages of soccer matches. This is when athletes are most tired and vulnerable, putting them even more at risk of something like a sprained ankle. The length of soccer matches exceeds many other sports, and without much downtime, athletes must have a solid foundation of flexibility and mobility to counteract fatigue.

Benefits of Stretching for Soccer

Stretching provides a myriad of benefits that will help you be a better soccer player. In the short-run, preparing your muscles before you play can allow you to move faster and be more nimble. In the long-term, stretching can determine how durable you are and how long you play soccer. Here are some of the most common benefits that come with stretching for soccer:

  • Improved performance
  • Help prevent overuse injuries
  • Quicker reaction time
  • Accelerated recovery
  • Increased flexibility & agility
  • Reduced delayed onset muscle soreness

When Should Soccer Players Stretch?

Soccer players should maintain a consistent routine and stretch both before and after playing. However, the way soccer players stretch before a game versus after should differ.

When stretching prior to playing, you should primarily engage in dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretches bring blood flow to your muscles. They also fire up your nervous center and increase your heart rate. Both of these are crucial to getting your muscles to their full range of motion.

Static stretching is a better fit when stretching after playing soccer. Since your muscles are already warm from playing a sport, static stretches with longer holds can help you negate any loss of mobility. Moreover, static stretching can help your muscles recover activating your parasympathetic nervous system.

What Muscles Are Used in Soccer?

The muscles used in soccer are dominated by the lower body since kicking is the primary action (except for a goalie). Nevertheless, all sports, from soccer to basketball to tennis, require the entire body to work together to help you perform at your highest level. Here are the most used muscles in soccer:

  • Hamstrings: Helps keep the knee stable for running and jumping
  • Quadriceps: Assist with knee extension for kicking
  • Hip Flexors: Generate power when running, sprinting, kicking
  • Adductors: Used when dribbling and changing direction
  • Calves: Support your foot stability and agility
  • Abdominals: Help transfer force from lower body to upper body for headers

Common Soccer Injuries

The most common soccer injuries usually involve the primary muscle groups in your body. Since some muscles get used more than others, your body will try to compensate, creating imbalances that can lead to the following: 

  • Sprained Ankle: Stepping on someone’s foot can cause an ankle inversion. Sprained ankles can also be caused if you fall awkwardly on your legs.
  • Groin Pull: This injury is usually caused by weak hip muscles. Without stronger hip muscles, your groin will be overused, and this is what causes most pulls.
  • ACL Pull: Knee or hip instability can leave the knee vulnerable to ACL tears. These are usually caused whenever you have to suddenly change directions or overextend your joints.
  • Sports Hernial: This injury largely depends on how mobile you are. Lack of mobility in your trunk can cause pelvic dysfunction
  • Hamstring Pull: Like groin pulls, if you have weak quadriceps, your hamstrings will need to take over and this overuse can lead to pulls.
  • Shin Splints: Impaired foot mobility can lead to stiffness in the lower leg. This will cause the lower leg to be overworked.
  • Achilles Tendonitis: Calf and foot tightness can impede the Achilles’ function to move in different directions.

How to Prevent Injuries in Soccer

Preventing injuries requires a multi-faceted approach. The physical demands of soccer are high, so you’ll want to utilize all available resources to keep your body healthy. These are the most effective ways to prevent injuries in soccer:


  • Foam Rolling: Using a Yoga Strong Roller for the self-myofascial release can help keep your soft tissue healthy
  • Stretching: Warming up and cooling down effectively with targeted stretching maintains your mobility and keeps your muscle groups from overextending their range.
  • Water + Electrolyte Intake: Replenishing the fluids lost from sweat not only quenches your thirst but also hydrates your muscles. Electrolytes also help to prevent cramps.
  • Yoga: Cross-training sports with yoga will keep your body balanced. You’ll feel more stability and be more connected with your muscle groups.
  • Listen to your body: If you feel pain, don’t try to play through it without seeing a professional first

Soccer Stretches to Increase On-Field Flexibility

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10. Seated Hamstring Stretch

Seated stretches are a good post-soccer static stretch. While this stretch primarily targets your hamstrings, it can help with mobility in your entire posterior leg chain. This includes your calves, Achilles tendon, and lower back. 

Here are the steps;

  1. Come to a seat on your Yoga Strong Mat with your legs extended forward straight in front of you. 
  2. Then, separate your feet 6 inches apart and flex your feet up
  3. Now, continue to pull the chest forward, hinge from your waist and lower your torso, reaching for the tops of your toes. 
  4. Hold for 5 breaths. Grab your shins or ankles, or use a Yoga Strong Strap if unable to reach your toes.

9. Standing Quad Stretch

The quads, located on the front thighs, help stabilize the knee and mobilize the hip. Doing this stretch before or after soccer can keep your knees feelings fresh.


Here are the steps:

  1. Start standing on your left leg. Use a chair or wall nearby to help with your balance.
  2. When ready, bend your right knee and bring your heel towards your butt
  3. Then, reach for your right foot with your right hand and grab onto your foot.
  4. Next, gently pull your right foot closer to your butt to increase the stretch on your quadricep.
  5. Breathe and hold for 5 breaths and switch sides

8. Hip Flexors and Psoas Stretch

Since your hip flexors help you generate power for running and kicking, keeping them flexible (along with your Psoas) is crucial if you want to be able to hit intense shots.


Here are the steps:


  • Start in a split stance with your right foot about 2 feet in front of your left
  • With your right knee bent and back left leg straight, start to lunge forward, driving your right knee over your right toes.
  • Once you feel the stretch in your back left hip flexor, hold for 10 seconds and repeat 5x on each side

7. Lateral Lunge Stretch

Lateral movements are a necessity in soccer. You need to be able to move in every direction at a split-second’s notice. If you want to be quick and agile, you’ll need to stretch your lateral plane and address your groin and outer hip with abduction and adduction motions. The lateral lunge stretch will effectively target your needs in this key area.


Here are the steps:

  1. Start standing in a wide base, with your feet wider than shoulder width. 
  2. To begin, bend your right knee and hip and lean into the outer right hip while maintaining a straight left leg and hold for 20 seconds.
  3. Remember, you should feel a nice pull into the left groin. If not, make a wider stance.

6. Standing Calf Stretch

Stretching the calves is important for soccer because the sport involves a lot of running, jumping, and, as we mentioned above, sudden changes of direction. These movements put a lot of stress on the calves, which can lead to tightness and discomfort that may affect your performance and foot health.


Here are the steps:

  1. While standing in front of a wall, place your right foot approximately 12 inches in front of the left and your hands on the wall
  2. Then, gently bend the right knee while straightening the back left knee and lean forward into the wall
  3. To increase the stretch, move your back leg further behind you and/or lean further into the wall in front of you
  4. Breathe and hold for 5 breaths and switch sides

5. Simple Shoulder Stretch

Your shoulders may have a tendency to roll forward, whether that is due to lots of weightlifting or poor posture. Use the simple shoulder stretch to put your shoulders in external rotation. This can help pull your shoulders back and open up the chest and thoracic spine.


Here are the steps:


  • Start standing or sitting and reach your right arm high towards the ceiling.
  • Then, bend your right elbow and reach your hand between your shoulder blades. Aim to put your middle finger on your spine. 
  • Now, place your left hand on top of your right elbow and gently push your right arm down, but not to a point of discomfort. Your right hand should slide down your spine.
  • Hold this position for about 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.


4. Heel Stretch

The calf is made up of two main muscles, the gastrocnemius, and the soleus. The heel stretch primarily targets the soleus, which is directly connected to your Achilles tendon. Maintaining a healthy Achilles tendon is vital for all sports, not just soccer.


Here are the steps:


  1. While standing in front of a wall, place your right foot approximately 12 inches in front of the left and your hands on the wall
  2. Then, gently bend the right knee while BENDING the back left knee and lean forward into the wall
  3. You should feel a stretch at the bottom of your calf, close to your heel.
  4. Breathe and hold for 5 breaths and switch sides

3. Lying Piriformis Stretch

Lying Piriformis Stretch targets your glutes and outside hip. Since you’re in a reclined position, you can also protect your knee. This allows you to achieve a greater range of motion.


Here are the steps:

  1. Start lying on your back on your Yoga Strong Mat with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor
  2. Now, cross your left ankle over your right knee, so your left shin is perpendicular to your right thigh. Keep your right foot flexed.
  3. Then, lift your right foot off the ground and interlace your hands under your right thigh, bringing your right knee towards your chest. 
  4. To get a deeper stretch, use your hands to pull the knee closer.

2. Butterfly Stretch

The butterfly stretch is helpful for soccer because it targets the hip adductors, a key muscle group for soccer. Soccer players make use of the inner and outer hips when kicking, cutting, and dribbling. This demonstrates the need to keep the hip adductors flexible.


Here are the steps:

  1. Start sitting on the floor on your Yoga Strong Mat with your feet out in front of you. Take your right foot, and bring it towards your left inner thigh, with the sole of your foot facing the left inner thigh.
  2. Then, take your left foot, and bring it in so the sole of your left foot is making contact with the sole of your right foot. The knees are both splayed out wide. 
  3. While maintaining a straight spine, grab both feet with both hands and rest your elbows on the inside part of your knee. 
  4. Breathe and hold for 20-30 seconds.

1. Iliotibial (IT) Band Stretch

The IT band is not a muscle, but it is a thick band of connective tissue that runs along the outside of the thigh, from the hip to the knee. The IT band works with your muscles to support your hip and knee, and tightness in the IT band can lead to injuries for soccer players, such as knee tendonitis.

Here are the steps:

  • Start standing tall, feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Then, cross your right leg behind your left leg.
  • When ready, begin to lean laterally toward the left to feel a stretch over your IT band, hip, and even your abdominals.
  • To increase the stretch, reach your right arm overhead and opposite towards the left side.
  • Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 3x on each side

A Word from Yoga Strong

Being a soccer player is tough. You need athleticism, skill, conditioning, and health in order to get the most out of your sport. While we cannot help with the skill aspect, this targeted stretching routine will not only keep you healthy and on the field instead of the injured list, but also enhance your athleticism so you can achieve peak performance. As we’ve talked about, stretching is not just about feeling good and loose, it’s also about optimizing your body for efficiency. If you’ve read this far, keep up the good work and stay strong (and flexible) !