Soccer Warm Up Tips & Tricks

Image credit to FC Barcelona of course.

If you watch Barcelona during a training session they always start out with a little bit of 5 versus 2 or piggy in the middle. This is just a simple keep away game to get the blood flowing and have some fun, but it’s the basis of soccer too. Keeping the ball away from the defense. After playing keep away for a while they then stop and do some stretching and start again.

  • Do it with the ball. Players would rather play head catch or play some kind of game with the ball rather than just joggging around the field. And if players are going to jog around the field, why not have them do it with the ball. In general, try playing games with the ball during warm ups, so it could be a game of two touch keep away players have to jog and can’t sprint. This is a good way to get players warmed up with the ball.
  • Watch your time. A good warm-up should take a total of 10-15 minutes, once a routine has been established. Any less is simply not enough to warm up, and any more will consume more energy that should be saved for the actual practice or game. In colder weather, however, you might need an extra 5 minutes of warming up for your body to reach a good playing temperature.
  • Bring the goalkeeper into warm-ups. Keepers need to get their touches on the ball, too, and require special considerations given their role in the game. In a possession game:  Allow the keeper to use his or her hands.  Often, keepers will want to and should play possession with their feet. It’s critical for the keeper to be able to use their feet when a defender or a ball is played back to them and they must use both feet to clear the ball.  Set up a small goal in the center of the playing area and teams can take a shot once they reach a certain number of passes.
  • Stay warm. If there’s a break in activity during the game or practice, do not let your muscles relax too much. Juggle or jog in place, do a few jumping jacks, and stretch to keep them pliable. Players should be standing around too long anyway during practice, but if they are, have them juggle in pairs or doing some situps and push ups while they wait.
  • Cool down. It’s just as important to stretch after training and have a short cool down (light jog). A total of two laps around the field or four around half the field with stretching mixed in is sufficient. To some experts, stretching after training is almost even more important than stretching before. It’s an ideal time to stretch since your muscles are really loose and warm. Essentially, stretching after training helps the muscles relax, ensures normal resting muscle positioning, improves blood flow to joints and tissues, and reduces soreness and stiffness—the killer after a long, strenuous training session.

Quote:  Learn to work well under pressure. Tim Howard (when he was loaned out to Everton by Man U) said: “When you’re at Manchester United, everything is scrutinized, every little thing. There’s a pressure to perform every day that is greater [than in MLS]. Pressure can bust pipes or make diamonds. I turn that pressure into something I can enjoy.”

The Tim Howard quote above tells you as a coach to set the tone at practice, and this starts at the warm up. Create an atmosphere that is fun but also intense. Demand that players do everything as if they were playing a game against their rivals. Players should make their passes and control the ball with a sharpness and meaning. Challenge your players to get better every single day.

Warm Up Videos

Sample Soccer (Football) Warm up

1. As players arrive, start off with a light game of keep away. (until 15 minutes before practice begins)

2. All players jog around half the field twice and slowly pick up the pace on the endlines. They then jog the sides and add in some skipping, high knees, kicking up behind and shuffling along the end lines. Finish off with sprinting. (5 minutes)

3. Static stretching held for 10 seconds in each position, each position held twice. (4 minutes)

4. Soccer tennis, shuttle, or obstacle course. (10 minutes)

5. Second round of stretching held for 15 seconds in each position, each position held once. May incorporate dynamic stretching if appropriate. (2 minutes)

6. Three-man weave or man in the middle. (4 minutes)

The warm-up routine of Barcelona’s Suarez, Neymar and Messi.

Learn more soccer warm up tips: