Injuries are part of football. In order to prevent injuries from happening, it is important for every team to have a good backroom staff, consisting of a physiotherapist and sports scientists. However, in this article I won’t write about the importance of these members on your backroom staff, but instead focus on some measures that can be taken by you as headcoach to reduce the chance of injuries occuring.
1. Train specific muscle groups
Every player has certain muscle groups which are vital for his role. Take DMs – most will need strong legs in order to keep up with attackers running past them, so they require strength training for their quads and hamstrings. Playmakers, however, will need good anaerobic fitness levels to keep up with the attack, so their legs should not be trained as often – instead only every now and then. Strikers don’t even need endurance training, since they rely on speed more than anything else.
So basically, it’s important that each player is focused on specific muscle groups during your training sessions. If you are practising fitness exercises for example, make sure you tell all players to focus especially on their legs – this will prevent injuries from occuring without losing too much fitness in that area.
2. Don’t give them long breaks
After a match or heavy training session, your players have used up most of their energy supplies so they are exhausted and very vulnerable for injuries. This is why you shouldn’t let them take a long rest. Recreational activity is fine for a few hours after a match, but if you can keep them active for at least 24 hours after their last match or training session, they will be able to recover faster and prevent injuries from happening as much as possible.
3. Train twice a day
According to Football Manager Wiki, most clubs train in the morning and then again afterwards – at around 18:00 pm. Did you realise that this time coincides very well with peak injury hours? Many players will have just returned home from school/work and eaten something heavy which won’t help their muscles recover any better than having some light training without food nearby. If you can’t change these times (which I’m sure many of you can’t), at least leave some time between each training session.
4. Don’t train on bad weather conditions
This one is self-explanatory. If the pitch is hard and slippery after it has rained for example, you shouldn’t train your players when they are in this condition! The risk of injury goes through the roof if you do so – there’s no chance that anything good will come out of it.
5. Tell them to stretch their muscles post-workout
Even professional athletes need to stretch their muscles after workouts – your players should do the same since muscle stiffness can lead to injuries taking longer time to heal. You might have heard stories about people sitting at home all day long with a hurt back because it didn’t heal properly and, as a result, they had to stay at home until it felt better. Even if you cannot join your team during these stretches (which won’t happen too often), tell them about this small inconvenience and make sure they’re healthy enough to play.