Your ankles can endure considerable abuse during a soccer game. Ankle injuries are common in the sport, and though you can't directly make your ankle stronger, you can strength-train the muscles near the joint for more stability. There also are steps you can take before a game to protect your ankles during play. If you twist your ankle, stop playing immediately. Even if the pain subsides after a few minutes, a twisted ankle requires rest to fully recover.
Strength-train on a regular basis to develop the muscles near your ankles. Resistance training will strengthen the muscles and tendons around your ankle, which helps protect the bones. Basic exercises such as standing and seated calf raises can help strengthen the soleus muscles below the calves. More specific ankle exercises include strapping a small, tubular resistance band around the front of your feet. Keep your heels planted and toes off the ground. Twist the front of your feet outward and away from each other. Perform balancing exercises on a stability ball. Lift one leg and balance yourself for at least one minute, then switch legs.
Improve your ankles' flexibility and mobility by regularly doing stretches and rotational exercises. Stretch your calves by standing and facing a wall with your hands pressed against the wall at shoulder height. Then, take one large step backward with your right foot. Slowly press your right heel toward the ground. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds, then switch sides. Even though this is a calf stretch, it promotes your ankles' range of motion as well. Next, plant your toes into the ground so your foot is vertical. Slowly roll your ankle in a circular motion. Rotate your ankle for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Wear shin guards equipped with ankle protectors. While most shin guards are simple insert guards, you can get shin guards that are pulled on like socks. An elastic band wraps around the bottom of your heel and keeps the shin guard in place. The band is attached to two ankle protectors that cup each side of your ankle to help protect it from impact. The shin guard is attached to the ankle protector.
Wear socks when you play soccer. Though socks don't provide significant protection, they can lessen the effects of cleats scraping against your ankle. Soccer socks come in various styles and are made from either cotton or synthetic material. Cotton soccer socks are usually thicker and provide slightly more protection than synthetic socks.
Wrap fitness tape around your ankle before putting on your equipment. If you have ankle problems, wrapping your ankle before a game is beneficial. The tape helps stabilize your ankle and provides some extra cushion that can lessen the effects of any impact. You can also wrap sports tape around your ankle with your equipment already on. This helps keep your socks and ankle protectors in place.