The football warm up is an essential pre-practice or pre-game ritual that has advantages for teams and players across all levels, from beginner to elite.
By spending fifteen to twenty minutes on your football warm up, your team will get off to the quickest start and be able to handle the rigours and frantic pace of the early stages of the game without injuring themselves.
Stretches For Football Players
Your football warm up should not take the form of kicking balls at full power towards your goalkeeper. Instead, you should follow a series of football warm up exercises and stretches that will prepare all your muscles for the action ahead.
A well-constructed program of football warm up drills should consist of a few minutes of jogging to raise your heart rate, body temperature and increase the blood flow to your muscles. This should be followed by dynamic stretching (stretching on the move) to improve mobility and flexibility.
This portion of the football warm up might include:
- Walking lunges
- Heel kicks
- Linear knee raises
- Calf stretches
- Side steps
- Thoracic spine rotations
- Leg swings
- Over the gate
As your football warm-up progresses, you should gradually increase the intensity of the exercises by introducing short sprints and fast-foot drills where you alternate between jogging for ten metres and rapidly taking as many steps as possible over the next ten metres. Further excellent examples that you can introduce to offer variation include skipping, zig-zag running, side shuffles, hopping, and jumping.
Effective Football Warm Up Games
Effective football warm up games are an excellent way to keep players interested and engaged in the warm up process. The best warm up games engage both the body and the mind, encouraging tactical and reactive thinking while honing technical skills.
Football warm up games include:
- Dribbling relay – The player dribbles as fast as possible down the field and back again before passing the ball on to the next player. You can pit two teams against each other to encourage competitiveness or layout a series of cones for a slalom that focuses on control over speed.
- Rondo drills – The four versus two rondo drill is popular with professional players. The four players form a circle around two defenders, passing the ball between players while the defenders try to win the ball.
- Circle passing – The players form a circle with two players on the inside with footballs. The inside players dribble and pass the ball to an outside player, who then dribbles into the circle before passing to another circle outsider.
- Mini-games – Simple 3v3, 4v4, or 5v5 games engage action that ensures players get more touch time than they would during a full-scale game.
Don’t forget after your football match or training sessions to conduct a ten-minute warm down. A football warm down should include low-intensity cardio exercises and carves, gluten, hamstring, and thigh stretches. These exercises and stretches are essential for reducing your risk of injury.