To prevent injury, it’s a great idea to get in the habit of doing a good soccer warm-up that should range between 4 -10 minutes or more. However, a soccer warm-up should depend on what the players are going to do that day. Teams & players often fall into a routine of group stretching where each copies the next or they do ‘traditional’ stretches. Rarely at a young age are stretches directed and purposeful, often because a coach may not know the importance of variation and what should vary specifically. Note: This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
Warm-up slow the first minute
Whenever I run a camp with players I don’t know, or get new clients I notice they start off the warm-up way too fast.
Professional players literally start the first minute of the warm-up like an old person. A very slow jog, so slow that you could walk the same speed.
I encourage you to watch a pro team warm-up. You will see the first minute or two are super slow and it’s all a straight forwards jog.
Once that first minute or two goes by you should start to do side to sides, shuffles, high knees, butt kicks, backwards jog and the other main warm-up exercises.
Soccer warm-ups can be innovative
There is no need to reinvent the wheel on stretching, but a soccer warm-up should vary from time to time.
This is a great time to get your brain stimulated early, which excites the brain and leads to a better attitude.
Stretching is key and should come AFTER a soccer warm-up, not before. The reason is so that the muscles are activated and stretched further, which helps imitate game play.
Players need to learn that this is what athletes do. Yes, if we are talking about top youth players in the Nation or older mature players you don’t have to worry about them getting bored. They have high sports maturity and understand soccer life. But younger players do need that change up every so often.
Planning a different soccer warm-up is important
The reason a coach should plan the football / soccer warm-up is because if you don’t then you will end up doing the same old warm-up. Or a last minute warm-up idea could make a coach look very unorganized.
It’s important to plan before the session starts.
3 times a soccer warm-up should vary
- When the weather is cold or wet because the muscles literally have a harder time warming up. When it’s wet you have a higher chance of slipping, causing muscles to pull. If you are from a colder part of the world or have experienced cold weather then it’s the same as starting your car in the morning. You want to give it a few minutes extra just to warm up. It’s the same with your body. Even if you are playing indoor, but it’s cold outside you should still get a longer warm-up than on a warmer day. Just walking outside from the car to the building makes our bodies colder.
2) If a player is only going to do ALL technical training then they should only need a few minutes for warm up and then should do skills that would be light, such as dribbling and focusing on technique not speed. If you are going to do shooting or hit long balls [long passes] then make sure you get a longer warm up. The foot skills & lighter skills will be enough to get the body warmed up and not cause any joints or muscles to become irritated.
3) When a player is injured or coming off injury. The warm up needs to be light from the beginning meaning, instead of quicker movements like you do on game day start off slower. When coming off injury make sure your first few days back to training are light and short. You should do at least one session on your own before joining the team. If your dealing with injury it’s possible to do further damage, even in a warm up. This is why you should warm-up on your own before joining the teams sessions.
Knowing the WHY of a soccer warm-up
The muscles, when warm, can stretch further than when they are cold, which seems obvious, but it is important to know so you don’t over pull in a game or practice.
Older players appreciate a stretch more than the young players, but we still need to make sure our young players at any age get a good soccer warm-up before stretching. This helps keep their muscles and joints healthier.
5 reasons your body needs a warm-up in any sport.
Soccer warm-up compared to other sports
The key is warming up and stretching so that you build good habits, build a healthy body and prevent injuries.
If you want to take it to the next level, then do the right warm up for the right sport.
Soccer movements are different from baseball, basketball, softball, volleyball and almost every sport there is. It doesn’t make sense to warm up muscles and do movements that you are not going to do in the practice or game.
A smart warm-up you don’t want to miss
So if you play basketball or volleyball your warm-up should be focusing on the knees being bent, light jumping up, jumping off of 2 legs, 1 leg.
With Baseball or softball you would do lots of light throwing at the start.
Soccer/Football you want to get the heart rate up, light jog, side to sides, high knee, butt kicks, light jumping off 1 leg, 360 spin and more. This will help your muscles be used to the movement you make in your different sports.
Keeping the soccer warm-up fresh
The warm-up is always going to be the first thing we do at soccer practice.
When you do the same old warm up every single week, some players start to get bored and their mentality and energy level go down a little bit. Compared to something new and fresh at least every other week so that the brain is stimulated. This helps keep training a little bit more enjoyable and fresh.
Warming up properly is injury prevention
As a soccer trainer, I can tell you the worst thing that can happen in your session is when a player injures a muscle.
Players getting injured makes a coach feel like it was their fault as the coach. Usually it’s a mix of different things from what has led up to that day.
Long games or tournaments are times when you have to be careful in practice. The body is still trying to recover from all the game play, so the day after a game, practice should be light – IF you played most of the minutes.
Pro soccer players do this day after game
The day after a long hard game, you want to make sure the starters and players who played more than ¾ of the game get a good warm up and stretch the day after a game and that’s it.
The players who didn’t play ¾ of the game will do some running, drills or small sided 6v6 scrimmage.
The reason for this is so that the players who are not getting as many game minutes can stay fit. This way they are ready to step up and play at the same level as the starters when the time comes.
Create a culture of your own to warm up right
At the end of all the talk the key is that you warm-up every practice or game.
Train the muscles to do the right thing for soccer or whatever sport you are going to play. It’s not rocket science, but at the same time it’s not easy or simple.
Warm-up the right amount of time trying to do similar movements you are going to perform. Then make sure you stretch all the muscles for 10-20 seconds. After your practice is over don’t for get to get a cool down.
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