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5 Ways Yoga Benefits Soccer Players

Ryan Giggs may have been onto something over a decade ago when The Guardian first published a news story titled, "Ryan Giggs: Yoga is key to prolonging my Manchester United Career."

Giggs has been one of many professional athletes pushing yoga's athletic-enhancing and career-prolonging benefits. Not to mention the other benefits that go unmentioned, including:

Let's explore yoga's benefits for soccer players and how those benefits directly affect your performance in practice and the game.

footballer doing yoga footballers can benefit from doing yoga

Improved Flexibility

One of the most obvious benefits of yoga for soccer players is improved flexibility. While some tension in the muscle is necessary for power output, too much tension or tightness will increase the risk of injury.

Many soccer players are quad-dominant, meaning the quadricep muscle is much stronger than the hamstring. This significantly increases the risk of hamstring injuries. A consistent and regular yoga practice will aid in identifying where the muscles are tight and improve the overall flexibility of those areas, which leads to the next point.

Reduced Risk of Injury

ACL tears, hamstring injuries, back tightness, hip flexor issues - all of these put many, MANY players out for weeks and sometimes months at a time. The worst part is these can be prevented with the right training program.

The right training program doesn't focus solely on major compound lifts and improving the cardiovascular system. A well-balanced training program and individual training sessions combine those strength and cardio goals with time spent on injury prevention. More specifically, sessions that focus on range of motion, stretching, and even some relaxation and recovery techniques.

Any professional soccer player (or professional athlete in general) knows the benefits of proper recovery, avoiding too much stress, and seeking mental clarity when needed. This could be a reason Giggs picked up his practice. Between the stress of maintaining elite athletic performance and the public pressures of being in the premier league, it's no surprise many high-level soccer players seek a sort of relief valve from time to time.

Increased Strength

Yoga can also help to increase a soccer player's strength. Many of the poses in yoga require the use of multiple muscle groups at once, which can help to build strength in the legs, arms, and core. A strong core is especially important for soccer players as it helps to stabilize the body during all those quick movements on the field.

Will yoga help a soccer player put on 10 lbs. of muscle? Probably not, but as a soccer player, a greater focus is placed on endurance and agility rather than brute strength. Yoga will help you maintain the strength you've developed in the weight room and help you build the muscular endurance those muscles need to run efficiently on the field.

Improved Balance

Another benefit of yoga for soccer players is improved balance. Balance is important in soccer as it helps players maintain their footing while making sudden stops and starts. Yoga helps to improve balance by strengthening the muscles around the joints and improving proprioception (the body's ability to sense where it is in space).

As any soccer player knows, you will be put into many difficult positions on the field. The literal goal is to put the ball in the back of the opponent's net at all costs. This could mean throwing one leg out to redirect the ball while a defender has his knee in between your shoulder blades. It happens, and it's part of the game.

What yoga helps with is putting you into uncomfortable positions and helping you get comfortable with those positions. You want to win every 50/50 you go into, and unfortunately, you may not always have even footing when battling for the ball.

Greater Concentration

Concentration is key in soccer, as players need to be able to focus on the game despite all the distractions around them. Yoga can help to improve concentration by teaching players how to focus on their breath and stay present at the moment.

The deep breathing that is practiced in yoga can also help to calm nerves and reduce stress levels, both of which are helpful in keeping a clear head during a game.

Many professional athletes describe this state as "being in the zone" or being in "flow." This isn't any misleading mumbo-jumbo. It's been well-documented in the scientific literature that flow states help athletes (and people in general) reach peak performance in the task at hand.

The difficult aspect of a flow state is entering it. Many athletes cite that a meditative practice, like yoga, has helped them better control their mind and emotions and really zero in on the game.


While the benefits of yoga extend well beyond the playing and practice field, many soccer players will want to consider the tangible benefits a consistent yoga practice offers. Again, those benefits include the following:

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