Most coaches have changed with the times in regards to stretching players in training. For years, players would do a series of static stretches first and then go into their training regime. Then the idea of getting the players muscles warm first, stop and perform a series of static stretches, get the players back to running again only to stop and stretch another muscle group.
For the youngest ages, stretching is not important. For the older age groups coaches should incorporate some dynamic stretching along with setting a tone or a “sneak preview” for what the session is going to be about.
Dynamic or Functional Stretching is warming up the muscles specifically for the movements that will be used in the activities of the training session. It is the type of stretching that runners will often use before a race.
Players partner up. While one player is dribbling a football around the area, their partner is performing a functional stretching exercise like some mentioned above. Players switch after thirty seconds.
Each Functional exercise should be performed over a 15-20 yard area with a walking or jogging recovery.
Here are just some of the Functional Stretching exercises you can incorporate into your warm-up:
• Lunge Walk-Loosens up the hips. Lunge walk is when you take large steps keeping the chest up, looking straight ahead and moving the arms and legs together.
• High Knees-For hip flexor and ankle strength. Extend up to the toes and lift each thigh to a parallel position with the ground as you move forward.
• Calf Walk-For lower limb strength and Achilles flexibility. Extend the ankle on each step will warm up the calf muscles and Achilles ten don s.
• Sideways running-For lower limb strength, agility and flexibility.
• Backwards skipping-Same as above and works on strengthening quads and calf muscles.
This should be done AFTER the training session in order to help speed up the recovery process. This is the cooling down stage. Cooling down are easy movements, light running, and more stretching.
The cooling down stage of training is something that all coaches need to include as part of their training session.
from Indiana Youth Soccer