Injury Prevention

A SAM Athletic Trainer is on site EVERY SATURDAY/SUNDAY during the season.
Please call him or her at 240-801-2006 if any injury arises.

Injury Prevention Tips

Preseason Conditioning

Many injuries occur at the beginning of the season when kids are out of shape, it’s a simple case of doing too much too soon. Players should participate in a program of leg, core, and endurance strengthening exercises before the season begins to prepare their bodies for the soccer specific muscle movements they’ll use during play. Aim to increase strength and agility progressively so they’ll be ready for the cutting, jumping, and high kicking they’ll be doing in regular season practices and games.

Stretch, Warm Up and Cool Down

Tight muscles are more prone to soccer injury. Make sure hamstrings, quads, hips, and ankles are stretched before games and practices. Warm up with a slow jog before jumping right into aggressive play. After practices and games, stretch again and take a walk or slow jog to cool down and return the body to a resting state slowly.

Knee Injury Prevention Program
Knee injuries, including ACL ruptures, are among the most common youth soccer injuries (particularly for girls) and can often lead to long term consequences. Studies show that specific exercises designed to increase knee strength and range of motion has reduced the occurrence of knee injuries in adolescent and adult female soccer players.

Wear Protective Gear That Fits
Shin guards protect the vulnerable tibia from painful and debilitating contusions. Cleats protect the foot and provide much needed traction on wet or muddy fields. Make sure they fit properly to help prevent blisters and incorrect running and kicking form, which could cause foot or ankle injuries.

Use Proper Heading Form
Although in soccer, head injury is most often the result of a player colliding with another player or being hit in the head with a ball, proper heading form will prevent some injuries to the head and neck. When heading contract the neck muscles to hold head in fixed alignment with the torso. US Youth Soccer recommends waiting to teach heading until a player is old enough to understand the lesson and has the necessary strength to do it right, usually about 10 years old. There is now a rule that players in 11U and below may NO LONGER head in a game – doing so will result in a foul.

Fair Play
Soccer is a contact sport, and as such, players are vulnerable to injury from rough or overly aggressive play. Adherence to fair play standards enforced by referees helps reduce contact related injuries.

Let Previous Injuries Heal
Re-injury is more likely to occur when a player gets back into a game or practice situation too soon. This is particular dangerous when you’re dealing with a head injury. Sustaining a second concussion after the first is fully healed can lead to brain swelling. Committed young athletes are eager to play. Sitting on the sidelines waiting for an injury to heal is the last thing they want to do. For their own safety, make them sit out until they’re fully ready and released to play.

Injury Treatment Tips

If an injury does occur, the following procedures will help with recovery.

As soon as possible after an injury you can relieve pain and swelling and promote healing and flexibility with RICE-Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

  • Rest. Rest and protect the injured or sore area. Stop, change, or take a break from any activity that may be causing your pain or soreness.
  • Ice. Cold will reduce pain and swelling. Apply an ice or cold pack right away to prevent or minimize swelling. Apply the ice or cold pack for 10 to 20 minutes, 3 or more times a day. After 48 to 72 hours, if swelling is gone, apply heat to the area that hurts. Do not apply ice or heat directly to the skin. Place a towel over the cold or heat pack before applying it to the skin.
  • Compression. Compression, or wrapping the injured or sore area with an elastic bandage (such as an Ace wrap), will help decrease swelling. Don't wrap it too tightly, because this can cause more swelling below the affected area. Loosen the bandage if it gets too tight. Signs that the bandage is too tight include numbness, tingling, increased pain, coolness, or swelling in the area below the bandage. Talk to your doctor if you think you need to use a wrap for longer than 48 to 72 hours; a more serious problem may be present.
  • Elevation. Elevate the injured or sore area on pillows while applying ice anytime you are sitting or lying down. Try to keep the area at or above the level of your heart to help minimize swelling.

Water is necessary for optimal performance, whether you’re on the field, in the gym or even sitting in class. While water acts as a natural cooling agent for the body, it does so much more: It helps your blood circulate properly, lubricates and cushions your joints, moisturizes your skin, aids in digestion and transport nutrients throughout your body. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking four to eight ounces of water for every fifteen to twenty minutes of exercise as a good starting point.


5 key tips for staying hydrated and healthy during training and matches:

  1. Early and often: If you know that you’re in for a tough workout the next day, or that kickoff is going to be at the hottest part of the day, start paying attention to your water the day before. This way, your body will have enough time to absorb the water before it has to use it. Space out your water intake.
  2. Water is king: For most people, most of the time, water is the best beverage for staying hydrated. If you’re bored with water’s taste, try cutting up different fruits (blueberries and apples are great for this) to add flavor without a ton of extra sugar. Sports drinks are fine, but choose them wisely and check your labels; many tend to be loaded with sugar, calories and sodium. Electrolyte replenishment is important, and sports drinks may be a good choice for athletes who have been exercising at a high intensity for long periods of time.
  3. Thirst isn’t the best indicator of dehydration: There are no set guidelines for how much water you should be drinking because every athlete is different. It depends on your height, sweat rate, weight, level of activity, the weather conditions (temperature, humidity) and duration of the activity. A simple way to check your hydration is to check your urine (gross, but true). During activity though, listen to your body. If you’re exhibiting signs of dehydration (dizziness, stopped sweating, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, heart palpitations, sudden loss of performance) take a knee and have some water.
  4. Don’t let the weather fool you: Even in cold winter months, it’s important to keep up your hydrating habits. It’s harder to remember to drink water in December than in June, but your body still needs a healthy amount of water to perform at its best; even if you’re not sweating as much as you do in the warmer months.
  5. Make it a habit: Water doesn’t do you any good if you’re not drinking it. So we recommend carrying around a reusable bottle and keeping it with you throughout the day.

The benefits? You’ll recover more quickly, have more energy and be able to gear up for your next workout.

Excessive Heat

If the temperature is or feels excessive, at the referees/coaches’ discretion a break may be implemented during each half – normally at the midpoint of each half. If any player, parent, coach or spectator should show any of the symptoms below, please proceed accordingly.

Nutrition Guidelines


Soccer is a fast paced, intense, competitive sport, and the demands on a players’ body can be incredible. The average soccer player can travel up to 12 miles per game at various speeds. This means that a great deal of energy is used and must be replaced. What you eat daily, weekly, and monthly will affect your energy level, performance and overall health. Energy in means energy out! It is so important that a soccer player eats a well-balanced diet high in complex carbohydrates, and low in fats which will help them to maximize their energy levels and perform at their optimal levels. Proper nutrition not only benefits an athlete physically, but also mentally; if the brain is not well fed, then the player will not play to the best of their ability. Without the right food, a player can suffer from the inability to concentrate, lethargy (feeling tired all over), having visual problems, muscle cramps, dizziness and even passing out.


Carbohydrates are very important and come in two different types: complex or simple. Complex = spaghetti, potatoes, lasagna, unsweetened cereal, rice, baked beans, peas, lentils, sweet corn and other grain products. Simple = fruits, milk, honey and sugar. Complex “carbs” should be given priority because they provide 40-50% of our body’s energy requirements. Soccer players need to eat high carbohydrate diet 2-3 days prior to an event so that the muscles and liver will store the amount of glycogen needed to sustain enough energy for 90+ minute games.


Fats also provide fuel for the body and may contribute to as much as 75% energy. Keep in mind that trained athletes use fat for energy more quickly than untrained athletes, and the amount of fat used as fuel will depend on the duration of the event and athlete’s condition. Remember that fatty foods can slow digestion, so be choosy and avoid eating these foods a few hours before and after exercising. Stay away from fried foods.

It is a myth that athletes need huge daily intakes of protein. Exercise may increase the body’s need for protein, but a varied diet with a protein intake of 10-12 % of total calories is sufficient. Extra protein is just stored as fat and it is training that builds muscle, not protein. Too much protein can do more harm than good. Some good sources of protein are fish, lean meats and poultry, eggs, dairy, nuts, soy and peanut butter.

Vitamins & Minerals
Vitamins & Minerals are also important, and if an athlete is following a proper diet and eating well balanced meals, then these needs will be met. Female players sometimes need additional iron and calcium. Iron can be found in certain foods such as lean red meats, grains that are fortified with iron, and green leafy vegetables. Calcium, which helps build strong bones and protects against stress fractures can be found in dairy foods such as low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. You can also supplement with vitamins, but always check with your doctor first!