A warm-up before a soccer game or training is very important. It decreases the risk of injury (strains, sprains and tears), increases agility, skill, power and performance and also allows for players to mentally prepare themselves individually and with the team as well.
If a muscle is not warmed up properly then it remains cold and rigid and therefore unable to properly deal with movements such as twisting, turning and sharp movements that occur in the game of soccer.
Warm muscles are also able to produce energy at a faster rate, which can affect a player’s speed and power as well as the ability to carry out specific skills and movements during the game.
Try these warm-up exercises:
- Shuttle runs: Place 4 cones about 20m apart. Begin by running to the first cone and back then do the same to the second and back. Repeat until you have run to all 4 cones and back. Repeat this same process with high knees, side steps, bottom kicks and also sprints. You can also incorporate the ball into this, so that you have to run to each cone dribbling the ball.
- Three man weave: Three players stand on a line about 10 feet apart, with the middle player possessing the ball. All three players then run down the field, but the middle player (the passer) lags behind a little then chooses which side to pass the ball to – say, the right. The passer then runs behind the player on the right and switches sides so that the player on the right now becomes the middle player. Now, the middle player passes to the player on the left and then runs behind him to switch positions. This rotation continues for the length of the playing field and ends with a player kicking the ball into the goal (www.soccer-training-info.com).
- Small-sided game of possession: Set up a small square and play six-on-six, starting off with two or three touches and then trying to have only one touch.
- Obstacle course: Set up different stations that require players to develop skills in a well-rounded routine. Some ideas – juggle a certain number of times, dribble through cones, run a few sprints, jump up for headers, perform push-ups and sit-ups, and so on. You can increase competitiveness by creating two teams and setting up a race. (www.soccer-training-info.com).
- Goal-kicking: Set up different positions around the goals. Begin in one position, lining up and going for goal. You are not allowed to move onto the next position until everyone in the team has scored.
- Get into groups of two. Have one person throw the ball up, while the other person has to move towards the ball and use a header to get the ball into the goals. It’s a fun game to end with.
Personal trainer, Tavia Ambler