One most common soccer injuries in boys is torn hamstrings. Stretching your hamstrings properly can increase your range of motion which will enhance performance and decrease the likelihood of injury. However, before you can get a good hamstring stretch, you need to stretch 3 other muscle groups: your glutes, your adductors (inner thigh muscles) and your calves. This is a quick stretch for your glutes that will keep you dry on wet days.
Adductor Stretch - Inner Thigh Stretch
While there are many ways to stretch the adductors, or inner thighs, here's a quick stretch for them that promises to keep you dry. I have worked with several athletes who thought they had a pulled hamstring when in reality the pulled muscle was one of their inner thigh muscles. In any sport that requires lots of direction changes, these inner thigh muscles get a serious workout keeping an athlete balanced. Make sure you don't neglect your adductors while stretching!
Finally, before you can stretch the hamstrings, you need to stretch your calves. When doing calf stretches, I like to stretch the calf straight and also with the leg rotated outwards and inwards. Rotating the leg allows me to stretch different fibers so ultimately the stretch is more thorough, which will enhance performance by increasing range of motion. The next two pictures depict the leg rotated outward and then inward. After doing 3 stretches with the leg straight, I like to do 3 stretches with the leg rotated out, 3 stretches with the leg rotated in and finish with 3 more stretches with the leg straight. You'll be amazed at how rotating the leg and then stretching can increase your range of motion.
Calf Stretching - Leg Rotated Out (Toes Pointed Out)
Calf Stretching - Legs Rotated Inwards (Toes Pointed In)
Only after you have stretched your glutes, adductors and calves, can you achieve maximum range of motion improvement in your hamstring stretches. As with calf stretching, I like to stretch the hamstring with the leg straight 3 times, then 3 times with the leg rotated outwards and then 3 times with the leg rotated inwards before finishing with 3 stretches with the leg straight again. As with calf stretching, you'll be impressed with how the final quality of your stretch is improved if you add in the stretches with the legs rotated outwards and inwards.
Hamstring Stretch - Legs Rotated Outwards
Hamstring Stretch - Legs Rotated Inwards
Stretching the quads is essential for all athletes who run in their sport, and particularly for you soccer players. In fact, you soccer players might need a few extra stretches on your dominant leg because the quads of your dominant leg are likely to be far tighter than the quads on your other leg. No matter your sport, tight quads can lead to knee pain, hip pain and even low back pain. Make sure you stretch your quads well before stretching your hip flexors.
Hip Flexor Stretch
It is so important to get a good stretch on the hip flexors. These muscles are frequently strained in groin pulls. They are the strongest muscles used in lifting the leg for running or finishing a kick. Just make sure you stretch your quads thoroughly before your hip flexors because if your quads are tight, your hip flexor stretching will be limited.