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Helpful Stretches for Young Players

1. Quadriceps Stretch

The quadriceps are those mighty muscles that let them run like the wind, leap like a salmon, and kick the ball as if it owes them money. Keeping them stretchy helps avoid injuries on the pitch. 

How to Do It:

Stand on one leg, using a wall or chair for balance if you don’t fancy a wobble.

Bend the other leg back, heel to bum, in a sort of flamingo impression.

Grab your ankle and gently pull it closer, but keep your knees close together and your hip pushing forwards.

Hold for 15-30 seconds, feeling like a superhero, then swap legs.

2. Hamstring Stretch

Tight hamstrings are a real party pooper, leading to back pain and other leg moans. This stretch is all about keeping the back of the thighs happy.

How to Do It:

Sit on the floor, one leg out front, the other bent so your foot's snuggling up to the opposite thigh.

Lean forward, reaching for your toes, imagining you’re a curious cat trying to figure out what your feet taste like.

Keep your back as straight as a ruler, hold for 15-30 seconds, then switch to the other side.

3. Calf Stretch

The calves are those powerful muscles that spring into action for every sprint, dodge, and hop. 

How to Do It:

Stand a bit away from a wall or something sturdy.

Step one foot back and press the heel down.

Bend your front knee, keeping your feet straight, until you feel the stretch in your back leg's calf.

Hold for 15-30 seconds, then swap legs.

4. Hip Flexor Stretch

Hip flexors are those nifty muscles that help lift your knees and make you agile, letting you zig and zag like a pro.

How to Do It:

Kneel on one knee, the other foot in front.

Push your hips forward gently, keeping your back straight, and don’t let your front knee wander past your toes.

Hold for a feel-good 15-30 seconds, enjoy the stretch in the front of your hip, then switch knees and repeat.

Always remind the youngsters to take it easy with the stretches, no bouncing and breathe like they’re chilling out, not blowing up a balloon. Regularly getting their stretch on will have them feeling limber, playing better, and hopefully keeping those injuries on the bench where they belong.