prevent injuries with these exercises

Chris Stone

Personal trainer, football coach, and sports writer specializing in strength, conditioning, injury prevention, and sports performance. Chris earned a Sport and Exercise Science degree at Edinburgh Napier University.

Injuries are easily one of the most frustrating aspects of football. You want to get back on the pitch as soon as possible but if you return too soon without appropriate rehabilitation, you are side lined again within a few weeks. Fortunately, there are football specific exercises we can do to prevent injury and reinjury.

Numerous studies have been completed analyzing injuries in football. Unsurprisingly, the most commonly injured muscles (in order) are the hamstrings, adductors, quadriceps and calves.

One of the most common massively career impacting injuries is tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Sadly, this injury is fairly common in football. It can leave a player side lined for a prolonged time and often requires surgery to repair the ligament. 85% of ACL injuries happen without contact. ACL injuries tends to occur when the knee “folds” inwards - something known as knee valgus. Knee valgus often occurs when landing after a jump, making a sharp cut, or kicking the ball. These actions are often responsible for ACL injuries, but of course you can not avoid them.

All you can do as a player is attempting to reduce the risk. There are multiple methods you can use to do that. These methods place an emphasis on mobility, resistance training, and performance training.

Think of your muscles like elastic bands. If too much pressure is applied, the band is going to tear. You can apply the same principle to your muscles. Muscles are elastic however, when stretched beyond their limits, muscular injury will occur. By performing regular mobility drills you will ensure that the muscles can safely stretch to a greater degree and therefore you will reduce the chances of injury. A few mobility drills that I would recommend include leg swings, trunk rotations, wall slides, and regular full body stretching.

Resistance training challenges your muscles to resist force. There are many resistance training methods such as bodyweight training, free weight training, cables, bands.

Improving your strength allows you to be stronger when tackling, stand your ground, protect the ball better, attack the ball in the air, and also reduce your risk of injury. Building a strong football body is necessary to deal with the high physical demands of football.

There are specific body weight exercises that we can perform to target specific muscles that are at particular risk of injury. These are all fantastic exercises to build bulletproof legs and keep injury at bay. 

Nordic curls - HAMSTRINGS



For free weight training, you should focus on big compound exercises such as the squat, deadlift and overhead press. Improving these lifts will build strength, improve your core and stability thus reducing the risk of injury.

performance training

During a 90 minute match, you will make as many as 700 cuts of 0 to 90 degrees. Cutting, rapidly changing of direction and accelerating generates a lot of force for the body to deal with. If your body is not accustomed to sharp movements, changes of direction, and varying speeds, you are at a greater risk that the accumulating forces will cause serious injury to your muscles or connective tissues. Get your body more accustomed to these types of movements with performance-based training. Performance training involves explosive work, changes of direction, acceleration, deceleration and stability through movement.


5 - 10 - 5


Any type of explosive jump can be used - a countermovement jump is pictured.


Keeping your body optimized is the key to football greatness. Invest in your body. Spend time to prevent injury. It will all be worth it.

For more information on injury prevention, check out the Matchfit Conditioning Injury Prevention Program. Matchfit Conditioning is a fitness leader in football specializing in all aspects of fitness such as fat burn, nutrition, injury prevention, stamina, and speed. They have helped thousands of footballers across the world from amateur to pro become match fit.

They offer a truly amazing, extremely in-depth program to help you prevent injury. It contains priceless information and is risk risk-free 60-day money back guarantee.

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The Injury Prevention Program is designed to be implemented throughout your entire season. With short, football specific workouts to use as part of your active recovery sessions and prime your body before training and matches. 

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