Football is an exciting, fast-paced game that's a lot of fun to play. It's easy to learn, so great for beginners, and it’s good exercise. But it is a contact sport, and injuries can happen. 

Injuries like broken bones, pulled muscles, cramp and sprained ankles are the most common hazards in football. Minor injuries can be painful, but serious injuries can end a footballers playing career and lead to problems in other areas of life too. To keep things as safe as possible while playing football, follow these safety tips:

  • If you’re getting into a sport a bit later in life, it’s a good idea to have a check up, just to make sure there are no underlying issues or injuries.
  • Always warm up and stretch before playing.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids before, during, and after games and training.
  • Make sure you choose the right boots for the surface you’ll be playing on to help prevent injury.
  • Shin pads should always be worn. They should mold to the shin, end just below the knee, and fit snugly around the ankle bone. Take your football socks and boots with you when you buy shin pads to make sure they fit properly.
  • Goalkeepers should wear long-sleeved shirts and shorts with padding, plus special goalie gloves to protect the hands when stopping shots.
  • Ensure you know the technique of heading a ball properly to help prevent injury or concussion.
  • Make sure you remove any piercings or jewellery before playing.
  • Know the rules of the game and follow them.

And most importantly, stop playing immediately if you injure yourself, or if you’re feeling unwell. You should be assessed by a qualified coach, doctor or nurse before going back on the field.

Safeguarding in football

It’s extremely important that coaches have all the necessary qualifications and background checks, especially if they’re working with children (usually a DBS check). Each club, association, school and private organisation has an obligation to ensure there is a framework in place that allows children to have fun, learn and play the game safely. Each FA-affiliated club must have at least one adult in charge of the welfare of youngsters. The FA has set out a Safeguarding Guide that details what each club and the individuals within it must do to ensure children are protected in their footballing environments.

Anyone who has a concern about the welfare of a child or the behaviour of an adult towards a child or young person under 18 years of age in football is asked to refer it to The FA Safeguarding team. The team is staffed by professionals who are experienced in dealing with child welfare. Referring a concern can be done via your club, league or County FA.