8 Pregame Soccer Warm Up Drills to Maximize Your Team’s Performance

8 Pregame Soccer Warm Up Drills to Maximize Your Team’s Performance

We warm up for a number of reasons.  A good warm up reduces the risk of muscle injuries; it allows us to being the game at maximum physical and mental condition; it helps to relax nerves before a big match. Soccer warm up drills are that.  It is not a sweat up, or a strain up.

Soccer Warm Up Stretches before the game

A good place to start.  Work on each of the muscle groups we will be using.  Stretches should be gradual, moving until the strain can be felt, then held for ten seconds.  The stretch is then repeated three or four times.  Never bounce during a stretch, that holds a high risk of muscle damage.

  • Calf: Hold on to a team mate by the shoulder, and stretch each calf in turn, holding the opposing knee bent.
  • Hamstrings: Place the legs slightly apart; bend from the waist and lean forward slowly, keeping the legs straight.
  • Groin: Bend one knee and place the hand on it. Gently stretch out the other leg until pressure can be felt.
  • Abdomen: Place the hands behind the head, gently rotate the hips, then lean to one side, hold, forwards, hold and then to the other side.  Finally, lean back and hold, then repeat the entire process.

Warming Up Without the Ball

A series of running activities can help build heart rate as well as warming muscles.  Start with a slow jog for 20 meters, then increase to a medium jog.  Repeat two or three times, then add in a sprint for 20 meters after the medium jog.  Be wary of pushing the spring too far, especially in cold condition.

Next, line up in two or four groups (there needs to be at least three players in each line) around a grid.  Adjacent sides work together,  player one jogs across the grid.  Player two moves into the middle and then shadows the player, jogging backwards.  Player one throws in a shuffle or sidestep.  Player two moves to the opposite side from where he started, ready for the next jog.

Soccer Warm Up Soccer Drills with the Ball

Dribble Warm Up Soccer Drill before Game

Dribble twenty metres, tapping the ball from side to side between the feet.  Then pass to a team mate, who dribbles back the other way.  Develop this by moving to cones, dribbling between them and then passing, as in the diagram below.

Soccer Warm Up Drills 1


Weaving Warm Up Soccer Drill before Game

Work in threes with this warm up.  The player in the middle has the ball and jogs forward with it under control. His colleagues jog forwards with them.  After ten metres of so, he passes it to his team mate, then accelerates and behind then beside the new player in possession.  The third player narrows so that the same shape as originally in place is reformed.

Soccer Warm Up Drills 4


Square Passing Warm Up Soccer Drill before Game

Start with some pairs passing to get the muscles loosened.  After five minutes of this, move on to square passing, as described below.

Soccer Warm Up Drills 2

In a 10m square, place a player in the middle, and one on each edge of the grid.  Do some two touch passing, moving on to first time passing, going through the middle each time.  Add a shadow defender who is there to harry, rather than tackle.

Develop this into a rondo drill, 4 v 1 or 5 v 2, in a small grid using first time or two touch passing.  Swap the defenders regularly.

Shooting Warm Up Soccer Drill before Game

Soccer Warm Up Drills 3

Once the muscles are properly warm, get the players’ minds warmed up with some shooting practice.  This needs to be simple, with lots of movement.  Players pass into the coach, who lays off for a first time shot.  Work with half the team at a time so that there is plenty of action.  The rest of the team works on a different warm up while their mates are shooting.


Training Tennis Warm Up Soccer Drill before Game

This is a fun warm up, so is particularly good with younger plays who might find the other drills a little tedious as they complete the necessary tasks.

Create a basic net with some traffic cones.  Players head or volley over the net. As in volleyball, they can be allowed up to two or three touches per side before the ball must cross the net.  Depending on the ability and age of the participants, allow the ball to bounce once or not at all.


Keepy Uppy Warm Up Soccer Drill before Game

Another warm up that is popular, especially if we are coach to a youth or children’s team.  Get players in a group.  Start with a gentle throw.  The players then aim to keep the ball in the air for ten juggles.  They can use any part of the body allowed in soccer (a keeper can be added, who can use his hands to ‘dig’ the ball, volleyball style).  Although each player can do two or three juggles, this only counts as one point, to stop the ball being dominated by one or two players.  This is a good activity for generating mental awareness: encourage players to spread out when the ball is under good control, but get close the to the player in possession when the ball begins to get away from the team.

A good warm up gets the team ready to play; it also helps to prevent injuries…inculcating players into the importance of a good pre match warm up is an important part of the good coach’s role.  This is especially true when we have responsibility for a younger group, where the eagerness to be competitive can result in the warm becoming little more than a shooting practice for two or three players.

The clip below has some good alternative warm up activities.

Warm Up Drills


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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Tom

    Another great post! I coach 5th graders (10-11 yo) and they love to do the keepy uppy warm up. I like to get them using all body parts before a game. It seems to make them more confident right at the start.

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