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Lay your game bare

Barefoot running during a practice session will not only give you a greater awareness of the stones, glass and dog mess that litters your club’s training ground; it could raise your game too.

“Learning to run barefoot will help prevent muscle pulls,” says Lee Saxby, biomechanics specialist and barefoot running coach.

Salomon Kalou recently revealed he was the latest in a long line of players who honed their soccer skills in bare feet.

But while poverty dictated that he would learn to play the game without boots, research suggests that shoe-free training sessions could provide the perfect injury prevention programme.

Studies among athletes at Harvard University in the USA show that by including barefoot running drills within training sessions, footballers can strengthen lower-leg and foot tendons, and so reduce the chances of them suffering from strains when their feet are back in the boots.

“Kicking requires large rotational forces and the knee hates rotation,” explains Saxby. “But correct barefoot running can prevent career-ending cartilage and ligament injuries.”

Just make sure you mind the mess.