One of the most valuable lessons I learned as a young football player was the importance of flexibility. As I look back on my playing career, particularly during my college and pro playing days, I was very fortunate not to have suffered any hamstring, groin, or quad muscle pulls. I attribute this good fortune to Paul Connor, my college head coach, who placed strong emphasis on warming up and stretching all the muscle groups before any type of activity in which we engaged.
Not only does stretching help prevent injury, it can also help improve performance. If I took two athletes of similar skill levels and trained them concurrently, and had one athlete incorporate a flexibility regimen into his training program, while one did not, I can all but guarantee you that the athlete who focused on flexibility would realize greater gains over a specified period of time as compared to the one who did not place an emphasis on flexibility. Additionally, the athlete who improved his flexibility would subsequently redcue his risk of injury, and at the same time, would be able to push himself or herself harder, thus making greater gains.
The key to good flexibility is to start young. Even though every athlete is different, and their goals, limitations, etc., will vary greatly, every athlete can benefit from improved flexibility. Every athlete I train focuses on the same core flexibility movements and exercise, regardless of age and skill level. From there, different components are added to each athlete's training program to work on their individual areas of need based on what their goals and target areas of improvement are.
All athletes, whether they are young or old, big or small, pro or amateur, should make it a point to integrate a flexibiltiy program into their training regimen. He or she will be happy they did; overall, they will become a better performer, and a better athlete. I will be happy to discuss designing and instructing a flexibility program for anyone who is interested in improving their game, regardless of the sport.