Soccer and Stretching – Increase speed or not?

The other day I was on a field watching a bunch of kids practicing soccer it reminded me that soccer season is now starting to ramp up with pre-season training.  It made me think of the research article I just read in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning regarding static stretching and the effects it has on soccer players during a match.

With so many different training methods out there for soccer players one that is still used by many coaches is static stretching…yes the kind where we ask the athlete to sit on their butts and stretch their hamstrings or stand on one leg and pull their leg back to stretch their quadriceps muscles!

The article by Sayer, et al looked at the sprint performance of soccer players after static stretching.  Data was collected on 20 elite female soccer players from a soccer team that participates in the Women’s Professional soccer league.  The impact of static stretching on sprinting for soccer players is important as sprints occur approximately every 90 seconds during a match.

What did they find in this study?  Well, any type of static stretching had a negative effect on sprint times for soccer players.  Sayer, et al discovered that there was a significant difference in the acceleration phase between the stretch and non-stretch groups.  What is the acceleration phase?… it’s the part of a sprint when a player goes from a standing start to full speed – somewhere around 20 meters.  The study found that static stretching diminishes maximal velocity as well.  It was discovered that an athlete could lose up to .39 seconds after static stretching and with sprints lasting only 4-5 seconds to complete, this is Significant!  This may be the difference between one player getting to the ball before another and recovering defensively to avoid a potential goal-scoring opportunity.  In elite soccer, the ability for each player to be at their best may be the difference between winning and losing!

Wow, that means that not stretching has more of a profound positive effect on sprinting for soccer players than stretching does. This is an important article for all coaches, player’s educators, and other administrators who are involved with soccer players.

So what do you do?  Stop wasting your time pre-practice or pre-game with static stretching and get into dynamic stretching.

I will look into the benefits of dynamic stretching for soccer players in part two of our series.  As well, in the upcoming weeks, we will be showcasing videos on our website for all soccer players to view!

BTW – Please check out our latest Soccer Xeleration Speed Camp for women/girls, click HERE

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