Pre-Training Warm-up

By Neil Cassidy

How often have you heard a coach say to players “Give me two laps around the field” for a warm up? The warm up becomes even more enlightening when they have a ball at their feet and coaches believe two laps around a field with a ball will improve their dribbling and foot skills. So with regards to this I pose this question: How often do players run at a constant speed over a certain distance with no changes of direction? I am sure that you all know that the answer is not at all. Players walk, jog and sprint in a game, so it only makes sense that the correct energy systems are trained as well as technique and tactics. I believe this all starts with the warm up, as this sets the tone for the rest of the session. So therefore a warm up that encompasses all of the above with touches on the ball and turns plus dynamic stretching is what’s called for.

The warm up must include a gradual increase in intensity, so that the body and mind can get ready for the training session ahead.


Step 1 is low intensity to tell the body that we are going to start exercising.

Pick three from the following for the exercise part of the warm up:

• Light jogging
• Half heel flicks
• Half knee raises
• Jogging shake out

The ball work (second 12 yds) should consist of one of the following:

• Toe taps – Dancing on the ball
• Rolling the ball – Facing sideways start with the big toe of your right foot and roll over the ball, till the little toe of your right foot is on the left side of the ball.
• Big toe to big toe – Keep the ball moving forward from right foot to left foot.
• Imagination – Ask the players to come up with something.

The turn at the end could consist of:

• Drag back turn
• Outside hook
• Inside hook
• Variations of a step over
• Imagination – Ask the players to make up a turn and give it a name.

After each exercise is completed twice, tell players to get with their partners to complete 15 reps of dynamic stretching on each leg. These are completed in 3 areas:

• Leg swing (North, South) (Standing, feet apart, swing leg 10-12 repetitions)
• Leg swing (East, West)
• Knee raises (knee to opposite elbow)

***Remind players to hydrate regularly during this warm up***


Step 2 is medium intensity. We are now starting to warm up our muscle and our bodies core temperature. Pick 3 from the following:

• ½ pace jogging
• Lunge stretches
• Side steps
• Carioca
• Lateral groin raises

(Followed by ball work, turns and stretches)


Step 3 is high intensity. This is mainly short bursts of speed that are relevant to a game situation. Pick 3 from the following:

• Fast feet
• High Knees
• High heel flicks
• Full pace

(Followed by ball work, turns and stretches)


Once your players get used to this warm up it should take around 15 – 20 minutes. It is quick and easy to set up and you could let the captains be in control of this part of training. Goalkeepers can do this same warm up as they are more now than ever a part of the outfield team. If you wanted to make it a little more specific to goalkeepers you could have them pick the ball up and complete hand eye coordination exercises such as keeping the ball above your head with your palms open, with the turn at the end being replaced with a toss and high ball catch or a dive. At this point the muscles will be warm enough and static stretching can be allowed.

Neil Cassidy is Coaching Director for Minnesota Rush Soccer. He possesses a USSF 'A' License, UEFA ' B' License, NSCAA National Goalkeeping license and KNVB Advanced tactics diploma. He played professionally in England has worked with players from Kindergarten to one level below the National Team as well as having spent 15 years in the collegiate ranks. He can be reached at


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