If you’re a soccer player (or the parent of one), you know that warming up is as much a part of the pre-game routine as making sure you’ve got cleats in the car. But that doesn’t make a proper warmup any less crucial to success on the field.
Physical benefits include increasing your range of motion, reducing your injury risk and getting your heart, lungs and muscles ready for some serious work. But warming up also has a mental aspect: Helping you bring your A game immediately once the whistle blows.
A good warmup gets you ready to play “at top speed from the first minute of the match,” says trainer Dylan Tooby of Progressive Soccer Training. “The best feeling is creating or scoring a goal in the early minutes of the game.”
A Warmup for Individuals
The following is one suggested warmup routine. Remember that, as Tooby puts it, “Everyone’s body is different. Listen to yours.”
Jogging Forward and Back
Start by jogging along the endline and then going backwards, and then going back and forth along the sideline. Keep your upper body relaxed and avoid striking the ground with your heels when going forward.
Ground Work: Hip, Quad & Groin Stretches
To open up the hip, you can work on your abductors—by lying on your side with legs stacked and straight, then raising and lowering the top leg—and the adductors—by placing the top leg on the ground in front of you and then raising and lowering the back leg. Then stretch your quads by bending the top knee as far back as you can for 30 seconds. (Remember to switch sides.) Finally, open your groins by bringing the soles of your feet together and holding that position for 10 breaths.
Get into a half-squat position, then move quickly from side to side, never letting the trailing foot touch the leading foot.
Skipping Forward, Backward & Sideways
Skip forward while circling your arm backwards, then skip backward while circling your arms forward before finishing with side skipping. Afterwards, do forward power skips by jumping as high as you can each time you touch the ground.
Essentially you’re jogging in place, ideally bringing each knee up parallel with the hip.
Front & Cross Leg Swings
Keep your movements slow and smooth, without allowing the force of your movement to do the work for you.
High & Cross Kicks
Kick as hard as you can without unbalancing or hurting yourself—the idea is to build the power you’ll need for proper follow-through during game play.
Forward & Backward Lunges
Do forward lunges by stepping out enough to create a 90-degree bend in your front leg; your back knee should not touch the ground. When doing a backward (reverse) lunge, again ensure that the front leg assumes a 90-degree angle.
Start slowly, kicking one heel as close to your bottom as possible, then coming down and kicking up the other heel. As your quads and knees warm up, increase the kick frequency and start pumping your arms.
Jump as high as you can, like you do when you’re heading a ball.
Go into a quarter-squat before propelling yourself upwards; try to land in the same spot and the same position.
Start by jogging from one corner of the endline to the other, breaking into a run as you turn up the sideline. Then hit a full sprint on the opposite endline before breaking it down into a jog along the opposite sideline.
Three Team Warmups
While warming up by yourself is crucial to your own success, it’s also important to warm up with your teammates as well—no one wins a soccer game by themselves. Here are three common drills.
Set up two lines of cones in two different colors—red and yellow, for instance. Each line should have three gates: One with two yellow cones, two red, then two yellow; the other with two red, two yellow, two red.
A group of players stands behind each line, each with a ball in front of them. The two players at the head of the line then race; the player at the head of the red line, for example, dribbles between the first two red cones before going through the two red cones on the opposite line and then back through the red cones at the end of the original line, finishing by dribbling between the lines back to the starting position and passing off to the next player.
Set up two relay lines with cones placed about 12 yards apart, each with a group of players and a ball behind one of the cones. The players at the front dribble down to the opposite cones and then pass the balls to the next two players before returning on the outside.
Rondos force players to not only work on their skills but also learn how to make quick decisions about the best angles for passing, receiving and blocking. They can be done in a number of ways; one of the simplest is to have eight players form a circle about 10 yards across with two players in the middle. The players on the circle then try to complete as many passes as possible while the players in the middle make attempts to block.
Like this article? You’ll love our weekly newsletter
sign up here!
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.