top of page

Soccer Injury Prevention and Performance Enhancement

Soccer players and coaches often emphasize the importance of ball training but the significance of off-ball training for performance enhancement and injury prevention is often overlooked. As a Gloucester City AFC alumni player myself, I’ve had the unfortunate journey of going through an ACL tear but fortunately have also been able to learn so much about the therapeutic side in-depth working as a Registered Massage Therapist which is why this topic is so important to me to spread to the younger up-and-coming soccer players out there in the biggest, most popular sport in the world; this information is also great for players like myself who still play competitively but going pro may no longer be an option and of course for those who play recreationally and still have to work the next day or have a family to go home to take care of. If you’re a soccer player, you will benefit from this nonetheless!

Off-ball training is exactly what it sounds like: all the skills and techniques you learn without touching an actual (soccer) ball. Off-ball training is essential as it teaches athletes to adapt while moving their bodies effectively, improve their stamina, finesse ball control and achieve optimal recovery. This type of training sharpens athlete’s minds, enhancing their understanding of body mechanics while strengthening joints and tendons crucial for the game while preventing common injuries.

In this article, we will explore four key aspects of off-ball training: Warm-Up, Training Sessions, Post-Game Recovery, and Preventing Common Injuries. Let’s take a deeper dive:

1. Warm Up

The purpose of a warm-up is to raise body temperature and prepare muscles for the work they’re about to endure. A dynamic warm-up readies your body for the particular movements you’ll need to sprint, kick the ball, defend side to side, accelerate/decelerate and so on. Tailored warm ups can also stimulate muscles that are under-firing while progressively allowing more explosiveness before you even start playing a game so that you don’t have a slow progression during the start of the game. Dynamic warm-up exercises before training are critical, as opposed to static stretches, because they enhance cardiovascular activity, mentally prepare players, and promote team cohesion. A well-structured warm-up not only readies the body but also fosters team spirit, aiding in mental preparation for the game.

2. Training Session

Off-ball soccer training involves exercises and drills focused on mechanical movement and skill development without the ball. This type of training enhances coordination, spatial awareness, and technical skills. Anticipating movements, making intelligent runs, and creating space for teammates are skills honed during off-ball training. Athletes can identify strengths and weaknesses, work on muscle strengthening, proper loading and landing techniques, and maintain joint health during these sessions. Isolating weaknesses and improving them is essential for overall performance enhancement as well as injury prevention especially repetitive stress injuries. This is an area that is talked about in the soccer world (and in most sports) more regularly compared to the other three. More and more athletes are hitting the gym to try to improve their strength however proper mechanics are often overlooked in this category here or poor structured planning is the culprit. Weights aren’t necessarily always needed in this part of training! If your body isn’t moving effectively, we shouldn’t be adding weights on to that movement just yet. Read that again.

3. Post-Game Recovery

An effective cooldown routine is as vital as training itself. It helps lower heart rate and blood pressure, facilitating the body's recovery process. Stretching is important during this phase as it reduces lactic acid buildup, prevents repetitive stress injuries, and maintains muscle flexibility. Stretching also restores muscles to their optimal resting length, allowing the muscles to have better recoil distance which promotes power and strength. Overlooking this part of an athlete’s journey can be detrimental to their sport career as injuries can take players out for multiple games, some repetitive stress injuries can lead to an entire season rehabilitating the injury and let’s be honest, if you can’t train effectively or at 100%, you can’t continue to improve your game.

4. Injuries

Despite preventive measures, injuries can occur in soccer especially macro-trauma injuries that may involve other players. Common soccer injuries include meniscal tears, ACL tears, hip flexor tendinitis and ankle sprains. Understanding how to perform appropriate exercises and rehabilitation techniques is vital for recovery and progression. Proper rehabilitation exercises, tailored to the specific injury, are crucial for a safe return to the game not to mention, psychologically preparing the athlete themselves to return to play at 100% without worrying about whether they will injure it again or be able to perform at pre-injury level.

By recognizing the importance of off-ball training (focusing on warm-up routines, structured training sessions, thoughtful post-game recovery, and injury management), soccer players can significantly enhance their performance and reduce the risk of injuries, ensuring a long and successful sporting career. I’ve dabbled a bit into each category but to gain more, come on out to my November MECH class focusing on Off-ball Soccer Training on:

Friday November 10 @ 5pm

Tuesday November 14 @ 5pm

Tuesday November 21 @ 5pm

Tuesday November 28 @ 5pm

After all, we can say we want this dream or that goal but until we execute and put the plan in action, it won’t come to us. See you in November!

Call (647)498-MVMT(6868) to book your spot or book online at

Chris Yan

Registered Massage Therapist

Please direct any questions about the article, soccer or registered massage therapy sessions to

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page