Football involves a lot of sprinting, running, and jumping. To play at their best, it’s essential for football players to be flexible, strong, and quick on their feet. In addition to regular football training, many football players are now using yoga to improve their game. When used regularly, yoga can prevent injuries, create flexibility and offer a sense of peace and calm. Additionally, the practice can build strength and improve flexibility in the legs, hips, and joints. In this article, we explore yoga for football players in more detail and discuss the best poses to use. Before getting started, pick up a comfortable yoga cap to wear whilst practicing in the sun.
Downward Facing Dog stretches the calves and the hamstrings, as well as the shoulders. The pose also calms the nervous system so is perfect to practice before a big game. To practice the asana, begin on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders. With your toes tucked under, lift your hips off the ground and draw them back towards your heels. If your hamstrings feel too tight, keep your knees slightly bent. If you need more length, gently walk your hands forward until the pose feels comfortable. Finally, press your palms into the mat and rotate your elbows towards each other. You are in Downward Facing Dog. Hold the asana for around 8 breaths before returning to your hands and knees.
Many players practice lunges to stretch and warm-up before a game. Crescent Lunge tones and strengthens the hips, thighs, and bottom while also stretching the legs and hip-flexors. From Downward Dog, move your left foot forward and place it in-between your hands. This position is known as Runners Lunge, which can remove pressure from the lower back. Next, find your balance and stretch your back leg out to balance on the ball of your foot. Your front leg should be bent with your knee perpendicular to your heel. Lift your hips and reach your hands up as you lengthen your spine and stretch your shoulders. Notice your core strength and ensure that your front left knee stays at a 90-degree angle. You are in Crescent Lunge. Stay in the pose for 5-10 breaths before coming out of the pose by moving your hands down and placing them on either side of your left foot.
Warrior One opens and stretches the stomach and groin while strengthening the legs. To practice the posture, begin standing tall on your mat. Keeping your left leg in place, take a big step forward with your right leg. Next, bend your right leg and stretch your left leg out behind you. Finally, roll your shoulders back and lift your arms above your head. You are in Warrior One. Hold the asana for around 30 seconds before switching sides.
Stretching the back, legs, and shoulders, Cobra Pose is another great posture for football players. To practice the asana, lie down on your mat with your stomach touching the ground. Lengthen your legs, keeping the tops of your feet on the floor. Next, place your hands flat on the ground, resting them directly under your shoulders. Gently draw your elbows back into your body whilst pressing your thighs and the tops of your feet into the ground. Stay in this position for a couple of seconds and take a few deep breaths. When you’re ready, lift your chest off the ground by straightening both arms. Finally, press your tailbone into the floor and engage your buttocks. You are in Cobra Pose. For best results, draw your shoulder blades towards your back and distribute the stretch evenly throughout the spine. Hold the posture for around 30 seconds before releasing the backbend and lowering yourself back down to the floor.
Half Front Splits opens the hamstrings and releases tension from the legs. To practice the asana, begin by coming onto your hands and knees. Come into a low lunge by stepping one leg between your hands. Next, straighten your front leg to raise your hips above the knee. Your heel should be touching the ground with your toes pointing up. If needed, place a pillow under your back knee for support. Finally, move your chest forward and lengthen your spine. You are in Half Front Splits. Stay in the posture for 5-10 breaths before repeating on the opposite side.
Pigeon Pose is a deep hip opener that stretches the hip rotators, flexors, and the quadriceps. Additionally, the posture relieves stress and tension. To practice Pigeon Pose, begin standing tall. Next, hinge at the waist and lower your torso towards the mat until your body forms a triangle. From this position, extend your right leg back behind you. Bring your right knee to your right wrist and move your foot to touch your left wrist. Your shin should now be perpendicular to the front edge of your mat. You are in Pigeon Pose. Hold the asana for around 30 seconds before repeating on the other side.
Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend creates space in the groin and inside legs while strengthening the spine. To practice the asana, sit down on your mat with your legs apart. Once you’re comfortable, spread your legs as wide as possible. Keeping your knees straight and toes pointing towards the ceiling, place your hands out in front of you. Next, slowly lower your upper body towards the mat. If necessary, rest your hands on the floor for support. Finally, ensure that your back is straight. You are now in Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend. Hold the asana for around 15 seconds before releasing the stretch and repeating the process.
Whether you’re hoping to increase flexibility or improve your strength, practice yoga for footballers to better your game. Before getting started, make sure you’ve got the right gear. If you’re practicing on the field, wear a comfortable yoga hoodie to keep your muscles warm. Not only will this prevent injury, but it will also allow you to reap more benefit from the practice.