Flexibility is one of the most important qualities for young athletes to develop. When we talk about flexibility, we’re referring to two things: the range of motion for a joint and the ability of muscles surrounding a joint to lengthen during movement. Whether you play football, volleyball, basketball, soccer, or another sport, being flexible is essential for success. To help you make the most of your workout, we have put together a guide to five of the best flexibility exercises for young athletes.
Why Flexibility Matters
Being flexible comes with a number of significant benefits. Here are just some of the reasons you’ll want to improve your limberness:
- The most obvious advantage of being flexible is that it makes you a better athlete. When your joints have a wide range of motion, you’ll be able to reach out and catch a football from any angle, bend over to stop a volleyball from touching the ground, or really wind your leg back to deliver a powerful kick to a soccer ball.
- While it is not known whether stretching can help prevent joint injuries, it has been proven that stretching makes muscles more resistant to injury.
- Working on flexibility is especially crucial for young adults who are going through growth spurts. For this age group, muscle tissue often grows slower than the length of the bone. This can make your muscles very tight and rigid.
(See Also: 4 Nutrition Tips for Young Athletes)
Best Flexibility Exercises for Young Athletes
When you perform the following flexibility exercises for young athletes, make sure that you have warmed up first with some aerobic activity. For the best results, hold each stretch for at least ten seconds and repeat each exercise about three to five times.
1. Standing Quadriceps Stretch: Stand up straight and touch a wall or hold onto a stationary object to keep your balance. Then, grab the top of your ankle and pull it to your rear end. Next, straighten your hip by moving your knee backward and hold the stretch. You will want to perform this stretch on both sides of your body.
2. Knees-to-Chest Exercise: Lie on your back and bring your knees to your chest. Then, place your hands on your knees and softly rock back and forth. Be sure to keep your back flat on the floor throughout the exercise.
3. Medicine Ball Core Rotation: Grab a medicine ball and hold it with both hands about a few inches above your navel. Position your feet so they are at least shoulder-width apart. Next, rotate your body from side to side at the hips while releasing air from your diaphragm with each rotation. Your abdominal muscles will tighten and your core will become more flexible.
4. Seated Toe Touches: Sit on the floor with your legs extended and your ankles touching. Then, reach forward and try to grab your feet. For an even better stretch, ask a teammate or friend to help you reach further than you could on your own.
5. Forward Lunge: Stand up straight with your feet apart. There should be enough space to fit the width of your hips between your feet. Then, take a large step forward with your right leg. Be sure to shift your weight forward so your heel comes into contact with the floor first. Next, lower your body so your right thigh is parallel to the floor and your right shin is vertical. Finally, return to the starting position and repeat on your left side.
About Rocky Top Sports World
If you’re looking for more workout and training strategies, consider attending one of the youth sports camps at Rocky Top Sports World. Our camps are led by coaches and athletes who have had years of experience at the professional and collegiate level. Rocky Top Sports World boasts an unparalleled location in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, just minutes away from all of the fun in downtown Gatlinburg, TN. To see all of the upcoming events at Rocky Top Sports World, check out our Tournaments & Camps Calendar!