It is essential to begin every session and game with a warm-up as this prepares the body for the activity about to be undertaken, as well as reducing the risk of muscle injuries.
The warm-up is not only about raising your heart rate and then stretching your muscles, its also about preparing your mind for the practice or game ahead. A good warm-up helps encourage players focus, build team spirit and improves performance.
For many soccer players the warm-up is about getting a positive mental attitude for the practice / game by having some fun, building up energy and working on their technical skills.
Warm-ups should start with dynamic movements and quickly include a soccer ball to prepare players both physically and technically at the same time. The warm-up should always start slow and gradually build up in intensity.
10 things to remember when warming up
Make it FUN
Make sure the players understand the reasons for warming up
Make it relative to the theme/activity you are about to undertake
Introduce a ball one per player to help develop technical skills
Start gently and then build up the intensity and heart rate
Provide sufficient time for stretching and ensure that the technique is correct
Provide adequate rest periods and ensure that water breaks are given (make allowances for the weather)
Time management is important – 20-25mins is sufficient for Travel and IM
Distance covered and size of area – make sure these are correct and not unrealistic
Avoid having kids run laps of the field, do long line drills with minimal touches on the ball or lengthy periods of static stretching
In the important links section to the top right of this page coaches can download the FIFA 11+ Warm-Up manual as well as the Beautiful 12 Warm-up which NGS strongly advises is incorporated prior to games and practices. Below is the FIFA 11+ basic handout coaches can print off as well as videos of the exercises plus other useful drills.