Henry Abbott at Truehoop looks at some recent research regarding stretching which suggests stretching before athletic events is not that helpful.
The question arises: why then do athletes go through a stretching routine before a game? I’ll throw out a possible answer: stretching is part of a routine that is psychologically helpful in preparing for a game. Even if stretching beforehand has limited value, as long as it is not harmful, it could help athletes feel like they are doing something worthwhile. Perhaps it helps improve their mental focus. For many, I assume it is part of an established routine that they were socialized into either at a younger age or by an expert. Since they have been doing it in the past, going through the motions helps them prepare.
Where this research could be used is with younger athletes. It is hard to break people out of established patterns but teenagers and kids could chart a new path that includes little or no pregame stretching and more postgame stretching. These younger athletes could then establish new kinds of routines that will be with them throughout their athletic careers.