Hey coaches, I’m talking to you. As a yoga instructor who works with sports teams I’ve heard every excuse; we don’t have time, it’s not in the budget, or my favorite “this is not a girls’ soccer team you know.”
So I get it, well not the third one he is simply a fellow I will never understand. But here’s the thing, you know your players need yoga to balance out all the strength, agility and endurance training you are putting them through in pre-season conditioning. And frankly, if you are being completely honest, you could use some mat time yourself.
So this is what I’m going to do. I am going to give you three poses you can teach players all by yourself. I promise they will be easy, no snapped tendons or sprained ligaments, just three simple poses that will benefit your players and not intrude into your already overloaded practice schedule. Pretty nice of me, right? Well, I’m a giver.
Hero’s Pose set. If you are averse to using yoga names, please feel free to call it ankle extension and flexion series, I don’t care (but you should really work on these hang ups of your’s, I feel they are holding you back). While you are going over scheduling, or just chatting about soccer topics after practice, have your players take off their shoes, kneel down and sit on their heels with their toes untucked.
You may find they really struggle with this, so suggest they fold up a towel, sweatshirt or jacket on top their shoes and place the shoe lump under their tailbones to take some of the weight off their ankles. Be sure their toes are tracking backwards and not to either side. And just make them sit there. Three to five minutes would be ideal, but they will probably start chirping at you after about 30 seconds, so make good choices and build them up slowly.
After the toes untucked version, have them tuck their toes and sit on their heels, this is a far more intense pose as it opens up the soles of very tight and probably tired feet. Two to three minutes would be great, but you are probably only going to get to the 30 second mark before you have a full scale mutiny on your hands. Don’t force them to stay in this pose if they have an active case of plantar fascitis, as you really can do some damage, so again, make good choices.
Hero’s pose is great to loosen up tight ankles and feet. It can help avoid shin splints and plantar fascitis (inflammation in the sole of the foot).
Reclined Figure 4. After Hero’s pose, your players may or may not be speaking with you anymore, but after this next pose you will be (dare I say ) their hero.
Have them lie on their backs with bent knees, feet on the ground. Place one ankle on the top of the other knee, similar to how you sit in a chair with loosely crossed legs. Raise the foot on the floor, maintaining a right angle in the leg. Reach through the triangle that is created by the legs and grasp the back of the thigh and draw the leg towards the chest. Have them hold this pose for 60-90 seconds on each side.
Reclined Figure 4 is a fantastic pose to release the low back, hip, glutes and, to a lesser degree, the hip flexors and hamstrings.
Legs Up Wall. Now this one may be a little tricky if you are outside and it may take a little prior planning, but it may get you nominated for coach of the year.
Have your players lie down near something they can put their legs up on. Ideally a wall, hence the name. If that is not available other things that work which may be available include, vehicles, goal posts, buildings, concession stands, bleachers, get creative. Tell them to wriggle in and try to get your backside as close to the wall as possible. The closer the butt is to the wall the angle will be more acute and the hamstring stretch will be more intense. Don’t go crazy, find the edge of your resistance and stay there, this should feel good.
If you absolutely have no support structures, you can use some sort of strap. Sure a yoga strap would be awesome, and if you had hired me I would have brought them, but lets not quibble about that now. Other things that work include, neckties, jump ropes, tube socks tied together, you get the jist. If using a strap have your players lie on their backs, extend their legs up in the air, soles of the feet to the sky. Wrap the strap around the soles of the feet and pull down to help stabilize the pose. Let them stay here 3-5 minutes.
Legs up a wall is great to deal with that feeling of heaviness that comes from lymph drainage in the lower body after long periods of running. Your players will roll out with fresh legs, ready to go.
Hopefully this will help you and your team take your performance to the next level. If not, give me a call and we will see what we can do. Good Talk.