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How To Start Playing Football At a Later Age

How To Start Playing Football At a Later Age

Since the spotlight turned to fitness and well-being at the start of the decade, there’s been a surge in older adults taking up sports they once loved or always wanted to try. Football, unquestionably the UK’s most popular sport, has been a strong contender. Limited equipment is needed and it’s largely accessible, especially thanks to gentle variations like walking football. The community spirit and regular professional matches help players stay motivated, too.

Before you get stuck in and start reaping the myriad physical and mental health benefits, explore the best practices for playing football at a later age. We naturally lose muscle mass and strength as we age, so there’s an increased risk of injury unless proper precautions are taken. Follow the tips in this guide to ensure you can enjoy your return or start to football safely. 

1. Assessing your fitness level

Especially if you are largely inactive, you must assess your fitness level prior to getting on the pitch. Visit your GP for a full MOT and follow their advice for preparing the body for a return to more physical pastimes. You might find that you have more limitations than when you were younger, and you’ll need to adjust your playing style to prevent injury.

Even if you’re already active, everyone can benefit from enhancing their cardiovascular fitness, and a healthy heart and lungs are essential to football. Focus on boosting your stamina with moderate-intensity cardio exercises suitable for older adults such as cycling and swimming.

Photo by Nigel Msipa on Unsplash

2. Finding the right group or league

Joining the right group or league will be crucial to your enjoyment of playing football again. Take time to investigate local clubs and seek out opportunities with players at your level. Many clubs have teams specifically for older adults who prefer to play a more gentle game.

In recent years, walking football has gained popularity. Designed for players over 50, this variation of the sport has adjusted rules that focus on reducing the risk of injuries. Beginners or those returning to football following a long break will find this a calm way to ease back in. 

3. Investing in proper kit

Boost your performance and ensure your safety by investing in the proper kit. Most important are quality football boots that provide good support and traction on astroturf or grass. You should also wear shin guards underneath your socks. 

Treating yourself to a replica of your favourite player’s shirt is a great way to increase your morale when you’re on the pitch. Stock up on tops that are sweat-wicking as well to keep you cool and dry in all weather.  

4. Practising the basic skills

As with any sport, specific skills are required to play well and avoid dangerous situations. Join sessions at your chosen club so you can get the basics such as dribbling, passing and shooting under your belt. Practising these skills regularly will improve your confidence and performance.

Top photo by Peter Glaser on Unsplash