Cooling down after a hard workout is important both mentally and physically.
I know this might sound very ‘mommish’ of me, but I always encourage a period of cool down after a rough workout or a big game. Very few people actually take the time to cool down after physical activity, especially when they get caught up in the momentum of a big win, or lose. Making time to cool down however, can help your mind switch-gears, and prevent injuries.
It’s important to get your body back to a pre-exercise state, bring your heart rate down gradually (which can prevent dizziness or vertigo), and encourage blood flow and circulation, as well as flexibility.
Cooling down after every game will eventually lead to a greater range of motion, which is super important, especially for athletes.
So what constitutes a good cool-down period?
You really only need 5-10 minutes of easy exercise to cool down. You can jog-in-place for a few minutes, then engage in some static stretches (where you hold the stretched poses for a short period of time) focusing on the groin, quadriceps, hammies (hamstrings), calf, and lower back.
Stretching works the best when your muscles are warmed up and supple, and taking 5-10 minutes to stretch after a game will keep your muscles at their optimal length, which will only help you be more athletic all around. You should only stretch to the point of slight discomfort however, and hold at that point. If you feel any pain, stop immediately.
Also, make sure you keep breathing through the stretches, because this will not only get you a better result regarding flexibility, but keep you from passing out on the field.