10 Soccer Warm Up Drills to Get Your Players Locked In

Every training session should begin with soccer warm up drills.

For the players, this achieves two things:

  1. Decreases risk of injury.
  2. Prepares the body and mind for performance.​

While young players may not benefit from a thorough warm up as much as older players, it's a good idea to get them into the habit of warming up properly to prepare them for the future.

The best soccer warm up drills are fun and involve players making game-like movements.

This is a far better way to get players ready for action than performing static stretching on cold muscles.

Use the 10 soccer warm up drills below to ensure your players are competing at the highest level.


10 Soccer Warm Up Drills

1. Catch Me If You Can

Catch Me If You Can Warm Up Drill feature image

How the Drill Works:

Two teams line up across the halfway line of the playing area and attempt to run back to their team end line when their team name is called before the other team tags them.

Purpose:

Fun tag game that activates players’ heart rates and muscles temperatures. Players train their first few steps when running and their top speed. Light dynamic stretching should be completed before this activity to make sure the players are stretched and already a little warm.

Setup:

  • Set up three parallel cone lines with 15 yards of space between each line.
  • Divide the players into two evenly numbered teams and assign a jersey color to each team.
  • Have the two teams line up along the middle cone line with their backs facing one another. One team should be on each side of the cone line with one yard of space between them.
  • Decide on the number of rounds the players will complete. 8-12 rounds is plenty.

Instructions:

Catch Me If You Can 1 - Warm Up Drill

  1. The coach starts the round by calling out one of the two team colors.
  2. The team called immediately runs towards the cone line they are facing while the other team quickly turns and attempts to tag the other team before they reach the cone line.
  3. If a player gets tagged before crossing their end line, they must immediately freeze and raise their hand. The coach counts the number of players with their hands up and rewards the other team with one point for each player tagged.
  4. The teams walk back to their starting position to repeat the process. The coach keeps score of the total points for each team. Team colors can be called at random as long as they both have had equal attempts to tag the other team by the end of the game.
  5. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
Catch Me If You Can 2 - Warm Up Drill

Variations:

Soccer Balls – Incorporate a soccer ball. Have each player complete the activity by dribbling at high speeds and attempting to catch their opponents.

Vary the distance – Set the distance players must run to their end line depending on the players’ age and physical levels.

Coaching Points:

  • Players must have completed an aerobic exercise and dynamic stretch before continuing into this activity. This will ensure players reduce the risk to pull any muscles while performing this activity.
  • Challenge the players to react as quickly as possible to the color called. Players should stay light on their feet and quickly explode upon the command.
  • Test the players’ reactions by calling the wrong colors to throw them off. Make it fun!

2. Circle Passing

Circle Passing Warm Up Drill feature image

How the Drill Works:

Players form a circle with at least two players inside the circle with soccer balls. The players inside the circle pass the ball to a player along the outside of the circle who receives the ball, dribbles inside and repeats the process. Players switch places with the players they pass to.

Purpose:

Easy warm up activity for almost any age group. This activity gets players moving with the ball and their muscles warmed up. Players work on their first touch, dribbling, and passing. Increase the pace and intensity of the activity as players slowly warm up.

Setup:

  • Have the players form a large circle. Use the center circle of the soccer field if available.
  • At least two players start in the middle of the circle with soccer balls. Start with more players in the middle to increase the number of touches each player gets.
  • Decide on a time limit for the activity. 6-10 minutes is the goal.

Instructions:

Circle Passing - Warm Up Drill
  1. The players in the middle of the circle start by dribbling and passing to a player along the outside of the circle.
  2. The player receiving the pass uses their first touch to take them inside the circle where they are free to dribble and then pass to another player along the outside of the circle.
  3. When a player passes their ball to an outside player, they follow their pass and switch places with that player.
  4. The process continues for the remainder of the time. Increase the speed and intensity as the players get moving. Players are encouraged to stay moving when they are on the outside of the circle.
  5. After the activity is completed. Remind the players to stretch and get water before moving onto the next activity.

Variations:

One-Two Pass – The players complete a one-two pass before the receiver dribbles inside the circle.

Two-touch – Players complete the activity using only two-touch. Players must make quicker decisions and use a good first-touch to take them inside the circle before passing to the next player. Players along the outside of the circle should communicate with players inside the circle to call for a pass. After players complete a pass have them accelerate to the receiver’s spot along the outside.

Coaching Points:

  • Start slow. Players can begin at whatever pace their body is ready for. Increase the tempo as players move and warm up.
  • Instruct the players on the outside to remain light on their toes and ready for a pass. Players’ first touches should be clean and should take them inside the circle.
  • Remind the players to look up and see the players around them. This will decrease collisions, help players make better decisions and build good habits.
  • Challenge the players to make firm, on the ground passes right to their teammates. See how many passes they can complete in a row!

3. Dribbling Commands

Dribbling Commands Warm Up Drill feature image

How the Drill Works:

Players dribble inside of the designated area following the coach’s skill and movement commands.

Purpose:

Warm up activity that uses lots of touches and dribbling to raise the heart rates and body temperatures of players. Players develop their dribbling skills as they work into the training session. Small breaks can be taken during the duration of this activity to perform dynamic stretches.

Setup:

  • Mark a square-shaped grid 20-25 yards wide, depending on the number of players in the group. Increase the size of the area to avoid collisions when many players are present.
  • All players start inside the square with a soccer ball.
  • Decide on a time limit for the activity. 8-12 minutes is the goal.

Instructions:

Dribbling Commands - Warm Up Drill

  1. On the coach’s signal, the players start dribbling inside of the square. Players can dribble freely until they hear a set of rules or a certain command.
  2. The coach can call out various commands that players must follow while dribbling inside the grid. Various commands are listed below:
    - Freeze! (Players immediately stop where they are.)
    - Dribble faster.
    - Dribble slower.
    - Outside of the feet only.
    - Inside of the feet only.
    - Strong foot only.
    - Weak foot only.
    - Turn. (Turn 180 degrees the opposite way the players are dribbling.)
    - Specific dribble move. (Scissors, lunge, in-out, etc.)
    - Cut. (Inside, outside, or bottom of the foot cuts.)
    - Switch! (Players leave their soccer ball and quickly start dribbling someone else’s soccer ball.)
    - Juggle. (Players stop dribbling and begin juggling.)
    - Be creative! Come up with more challenging commands, or funny commands to keep the players interested.
  3. Take small breaks during the activity for dynamic stretching if they players need to. At the end of the activity make sure players stretch one last time before getting a drink of water and moving onto the next activity.

Variations:

Grid size – Depending on the players’ skill, decrease the size of the grid to make players avoid each other and dribble with their heads up.

Coaching Points:

  • Pay attention to the space and increase the size if players are unsafely running into each other.
  • Start slow, but make sure to increase the tempo of the activity as time progresses.
  • Stress that players dribble with their eyes up to avoid unnecessary collisions and to build good game-like habits.
  • Encourage the players to try their best with each command. Some commands might be difficult for some players, but motivate them to work on the instructions given.
  • Challenge the players to keep the ball close and perform the coach’s commands as quickly as possible.

4. Dribbling Gates

Dribbling Gates Warm Up Drill feature image

How the Drill Works:

Players attempt to dribble through as many gates as they can within the time period.

Purpose:

Fun, competitive warm up game that develops players’ dribbling and speed skills. Players get many touches on the ball while also raising their heart rates and body temperatures.

Setup:

  • Use four cones to create a square-shaped grid about 30-40 yards wide. Depending on the number of players, decrease, or increase, the size of the grid.
  • Lay down randomly spaced cone gates through the grid. Each gate should be 2-3 yards wide. There should be almost as many gates as there are players.
  • All players start inside the grid with a soccer ball.
  • Decide on a time limit that each game will be played for. 1-3 minutes per game should be plenty.

Instructions:

Dribbling Gates - Warm Up Drill

  1. On the coach’s signal, each player begins dribbling through as many gates as they can under control.
  2. Players can not dribble through the same gate twice in a row, nor can they dribble in the same repetitive pattern through the cones.
  3. Players are responsible for keeping track of the number of gates they dribble through. Each gate counts as one.
  4. Players are not allowed to touch other players’ soccer balls.
  5. At the end of each round, players immediately freeze where they are and the coach asks players to raise their hands if they dribbled through more than 5 gates, 10 gates, and so on until they find the player, or players, who dribbled through the most gates.
  6. After each game, players rest and stretch for 2-3 minutes before beginning the second. At least two rounds should be completed, but feel free to play more.

Variations:

Weak foot – Players can only dribble using their weak foot.

Grid size – Increase the grid size to decrease the amount of traffic players must dribble through. Decrease the grid size to challenge players with more traffic and tighter spaces.

1v1 – Players partner up with one ball and compete against each other to successfully dribble through as many gates as possible while their partner attempts to steal the ball and do the same.

Partner passing –Players partner up and attempt to move together dribbling and passing the ball to each other through the gates.

Coaching Points:

  • Like every warm up activity, start slow. Make sure the players go at a pace that warms their bodies and raises their heart rates without putting their muscles in danger of over stretching too soon.
  • Players should do dynamic stretching and jogging before jumping straight into this activity to avoid muscle strains.
  • Encourage the players keep their eyes up while dribbling to build good habits and to avoid collisions with other players.
  • Remind the players to keep close control of the ball with constant touches. Keeping the ball close will help players change direction quickly and attack an open gate.
  • Challenge the players to dribble through as many gates as they possibly can within the time period! Players should dribble, under control, as quickly as they can.

5. Dynamic Soccer Warm Up

Dynamic Soccer Warm Up Warm Up Drill feature image

How the Drill Works:

Players divide into two lines and complete a series of runs and stretches to prepare their bodies for training.

Purpose:

Simple warm up activity that activates players legs and muscles through a series of runs and stretches. Players increase their heart rates and body temperatures while stretching their muscles to decrease the risk of injury during training.

Setup:

  • Make two parallel lines of cones 20 yards long with 10 yards of space between each line.
  • Have the players divide into two lines starting at the bottom of each cone line.

Instructions:

Dynamic Soccer Warm Up - Warm Up Drill

  1. The two lines of players start the activity by jogging down along the inside of the cone and back along the outside of the cones.
  2. The players will complete the following runs in the same pattern as step 1:
      - Jog. At least four times before moving to the next movement.
      - Shuffle sideways facing each other all the way down and back.
      - High knees down with a jog back.
      - Heels-to-bottom down with a jog back.
      - Skips down with a jog back.
      - Karaoke (over-under side running) facing each other down and back.
      - Backwards jog down and back.
  3. The players will then complete the dynamic stretched listed below. The players will hold the stretch for 3-4 seconds before taking a few steps forward and completing the same stretch on the opposite leg. The players will continue that process all the way down and then complete a light jog back.
      - Quad stretch. Grad one ankle and pull it back into the bottom.
      - Knee pull. Bend one knee up and grab the outside of the knee and pull it up and towards the stomach.
      - Hamstring sweeps. Move one leg straight out in front of the other and place the heel on the ground with a straight leg and toe pointing up. Bend over and sweep back-and-forth three times before standing up, walking forward and repeating the process.
      - Leg swings. Kick one leg up in front while keeping the leg straight.
      - Lunges. Lunge forward with arms raised above head.
      - Side lunges. Complete a side lunge before standing up, walking a few steps, and switching to the other side.
  4. Complete at least four higher intensity runs at the end of the dynamic stretching. Players should explode down at 80-90% max speed and then slowly walk back to the beginning.
  5. Add more stretches, or runs, as needed. Listen to the players and what their bodies need to be warm. Give the players time to stretch anything extra they need before moving onto the next activity.

Variations:

Stretches and runs – Depending on the players and how their bodies feel, add more stretches, or runs, to complete their warmup and ensure their bodies are ready for the next activity.

Coaching Points:

  • Start slow with the jogs and let players work into the movements.
  • Older and more experienced players will know their bodies and what they need to warmup. For younger, less experienced players, make sure they are focused and completing the movements correctly.
  • Remind the players of the importance of warming up and its role in injury prevention.
  • Increase the intensity of the warmup at the end when players complete their higher intensity runs. Make sure players are putting forth the effort to prepare their bodies for the remainder of the session.

6. Pull The Tail

Pull the Tail Warm Up Drill feature image

How the Drill Works:

Players attempt to pull each other’s “tails” out while protecting their own. Tails are jerseys tucked into the back of players’ shorts that hang down to look like a tail.

Purpose:

Fun warmup activity for all ages. Players compete to pull out each other’s tails while moving around and protecting their own. Raises the players’ heart rates and body temperatures in preparation for training. Players are encouraged to do some light jogging and stretching before partaking in this activity.

Setup:

  • Set up a square playing area using cones. The size depends on the number of players, but a good starting point is a 25x25 yard square.
  • Give each player a jersey. The color of the jersey does not matter.
  • Instruct each player to tuck a third of the jersey into the back of their shorts. Make sure the jerseys are visible and easy enough for players to pull out. This is the player’s “tail”.
  • Players spread out inside the playing area, without a soccer ball, and wait for the coach’s start signal.
  • Decide on a time limit for each round and the number of rounds. 2-4 minutes per round for 3-5 rounds is the target.

Instructions:

Pull the Tail - Warm Up Drill
  1. On the coach’s start signal, players begin running around inside of the square and attempt to pull out their opponent’s tails while also moving to protect their own from being pulled.
  2. If a player pulls out another player’s tail, the player who pulls the tail says, “BAM,” and then throws the tail straight on the ground before moving on to the next player.
  3. Once a player’s tail has been pulled, they take their tail to the outside of the square, complete five jumping-jacks, put their tail back in, and then rejoin the game inside the square.
  4. After the time is up, tell the players to rest and to reset their tails if they need. Give players a minute or two to rest and stretch if needed.
  5. Repeat the process for the remaining rounds. View variations to add new game modes as the players get familiar with the game. Make sure to give players time to stretch and get water at the end of the activity before moving on to the next drill.

Variations:

Last one standing – If a player’s tail is pulled, they are out for the rest of the round. Players who are out rest outside of the square until one player is left standing.

Most tails pulled wins – Have the players count the number of tails they pull throughout the round. Ask the players to raise their hand if they pulled 1, 5, 10…etc. until the player with the most tails pulled is found.

Least times pulled – Have the players count the number of times their tail was pulled during the round. Ask the players to raise their hand if they were pulled less than 10, 5, or 0 times. The player who had their tail pulled the least wins.

Add a soccer ball – Each player has a ball that they must dribble while they run around. Complete the game with the same rules except now the game will be played with a soccer ball. Players develop good dribbling and protecting skills in the variation.

Coaching Points:

  • Check to make sure everyone’s tail is in and that no one is cheating by hiding their tail.
  • Challenge the players to pull as many as they can while also protecting their own tail!
  • Encourage the players to be quick and to use cuts and fakes to get away from other players.
  • Remind the players to have some fun and be creative!

7. Run Up. Dribble Back.

Run Up Dribble Back Warm Up Drill feature image

How the Drill Works:

Players move through a series of cones before running around a cone and receiving a pass from their teammate to dribble the ball through another series of cones before returning back to their starting position.

Purpose:

Warm up activity that incorporates running, passing, and dribbling. Players move through series of cones with, and without, the ball to improve coordination and dribbling skills.

Setup:

  • Divide the team into groups of 4-5 players.
  • For each group, set up two cones 15-20 yards away from each.
  • On each side of the cones, add a series of 4-6 cones that players must dribble and move through. See the diagram below for more information.
  • Each group of players forms a line behind the cone closest to the cones setup to move through. See diagram for more information.
  • Each group of players forms a line behind the cone closest to the cones setup to move through. See diagram for more information.
  • Each player in line should have a ball except the player who is starting in front of the line.
  • Decide on a time limit that the players will complete this drill. Five minutes in each direction should be plenty of time for the players to warm up. Add more time, or raise the intensity if players need more to warm up.

Instructions:

Run Up Dribble Back 1 - Warm Up Drill

  1. The first player in line shuffles/moves through the first series of cones without a ball.
  2. After completing the first series of cones, the player runs to, and around the top cone before receiving a pass from the player who was behind them in line.
  3. The player receiving the pass takes a good first touch towards the second series of cones and dribbles through the cones before returning to the back of their group line.
  4. As soon as the player in line passes to the player in front of them, they immediately begin their turn.
  5. The warm up activity continues in this manner for the remainder of the time limit.
  6. After the players have completed the first round, have them stretch for 2-3 minutes before switching directions and raising the intensity in the second round. Stretch once more after the second round for 2-3 minutes.
Run Up Dribble Back 2 - Warm Up Drill

Variations:

Patterns – Switch up the arrangement of cones for the players to run and dribble through. Add, or subtract, cones for the players to work through.

Intensity – Increase, or decrease, the intensity depending on how the players are feeling and looking while completing the activity.

Coaching Points:

  • Start slow and increase tempo as players gradually warm up. Do not push the players at the beginning while their bodies are still working into the movements. This is not a fitness activity, but rather an activity to activate players’ muscles and brains.
  • Encourage players to use the proper footwork while moving through the cones. Players should not cross their feet at any point.
  • Remind the players to look up when dribbling to build good habits.
  • Challenge the players to make firm, good passes to the players in front of them. The passes should be on the ground and just in front of the moving player.

8. Shadows

Shadows Warm Up Drill feature image

How the Drill Works:

Players partner up with one partner attempting to lose their “shadow” by running and changing direction to get away.

Purpose:

Fun warm up activity for players to prepare their bodies for training. Players compete in an enjoyable manner while running, turning, and increasing their heart rates.

Setup:

  • Depending on the number of players, use an appropriate sized space. The space should be large enough for players to run into open space, but not too large that they are running too much. Use half of the field for 16-20 players and the whole field for more than 20 players.
  • Have the players partner up.
  • Have each pair of players decide who will be the “shadow” and who will be the runner.
  • Decide on the time limit for each round. 1-2 minutes will be enough time for each round.

Instructions:

Shadows - Warm Up Drill
  1. On the coach’s command, the runners begin moving while the shadow players attempt to stay close behind them.
  2. Runners can use whatever running method, or change of direction they want to “lose” their shadow. Runners must stay within the designated playing area.
  3. The activity continues for the determined time limit.
  4. After each round have the players rest, stretch, and then switch roles.
  5. Complete 2-6 rounds with rest and stretching in between each round. Have players switch partners after every two rounds.

Variations:

Soccer Balls – Have each player use a soccer ball. Players develop their dribbling skills at high speeds with changes of direction.

Coaching Points:

  • Stress that the players maintain their vision while running and to avoid running into each other at all possible costs. There is no penalty if players get too far away from their partners, so make sure players stay safe.
  • Encourage the players to have some fun and to challenge each other. Players should be creative and sharp when trying to lose their partner.
  • Make sure there is plenty of rest time between each round for players to stretch and recover.

9. Triangle Keep Away

Triangle Keep Away Warm Up Drill feature image

How the Drill Works:

Three players on the outside of the triangle attempt to keep possession against one defender inside the triangle.

Purpose:

Fun warm up activity for any age group. Good activity for players to set up before training and play while they wait for the session to start. Activity gets players’ bodies and minds moving as they increase their heart rates and body temperatures. Players improve their possession and decision-making skills in this activity as well.

Setup:

  • Divide the players into groups of four.
  • Each group should have at least one soccer ball.
  • Set up a triangle of cones for each group. Each side of the triangle should be 4-5 yards long. Increase the size of the triangle if groups are struggling to keep possession.
  • Three players in each group start on offense along the sides of the triangle with one ball while one player starts as the defender in the middle of the triangle.
  • Decide on a time limit for the activity. 8-12 minutes is appropriate.

Instructions:

Triangle Keep Away - Warm Up Drill
  1. The offensive players start the activity with one free pass before the defender is allowed to steal the ball.
  2. The offensive players are free to move along their sides of the triangle while attempting to keep possession from the defender.
  3. The defender attempts to win the ball from the offensive players as quickly as possible.
  4. When the defender steals the ball from one of the offensive players, the defender switches positions with the offensive player who last touched the soccer ball.
  5. As soon as the players have switched positions, the next possession begins.
  6. The activity continues in this manner for the remainder of the time.

Variations:

Touch Limit – To increase the difficulty, add a touch restriction for the offensive players. Depending on the players’ skill level give them 3, 2, or 1-touch to complete the activity in.

Coaching Points:

  • Start slow. Do not push players to be super sharp or explosive. Let players slowly work into it and warm their muscles.
  • Teach the constantly move for each other, providing good passing angles to the player on the ball.
  • Encourage the players to keep their eyes up to see the defender and help increase their speed of play.
  • Remind the players to communicate with one another to help with decision-making.
  • Instruct the players to be creative on the ball and try new ways to get out of tight spaces and keep the ball for their team.
  • Challenge the defender to win the ball back as quickly as possible.

10. Two Line Combinations

Two Line Combinations Warm Up Drill feature image

How the Drill Works:

Players form two lines and alternate passing, or dribbling, one soccer ball between the two lines. Players follow their pass and run to the end of the opposite line. Different patterns and variations can be completed.

Purpose:

Simple warm up passing and dribbling activity that gets players moving with the ball. Player improve their passing and dribbling while increasing their heart rates and muscle temperatures in preparation for the rest of the training session. Intensity can be increased as the activity progresses.

Setup:

  • Depending on the number of players present, have the players divide into groups of 6-8 players.
  • Each group needs one soccer ball.
  • Each group forms two lines about 10-15 yards apart from each other.
  • The first player in one of the group’s lines starts with the ball.
  • Decide on a time limit for the drill. 6-10 minutes is sufficient.

Instructions:

Two Line Combinations - Warm Up Drill
  1. The player with the ball starts by dribbling across to the opposite line and gives the ball to the first player in the line who repeats the process. After the player finishes dribbling they go to the back of the line they started at.
  2. The patterns listed below follow the same rules as the first pattern. The player who passes, or dribbles, from their line to the other line will always end up at the back of the line they just passed, or dribbled to.
      - Dribbling with a 1v1 move. Scissors, lunge, etc.
      - Two-touch passing.
      - Up-back-through passing.
      - Juggling and passing in the air.
      - Headers.
      - One-touch passing.
  3. Complete all, or some, of the patterns during the duration of the activity. Have players stretch and get water before moving onto the next activity.

Variations:

Distance – Vary the distance between the lines depending on the age and skill level of the players.

Coaching Points:

  • Start simple and slow with the players. Begin with dribbling at the players’ choice of pace and slowly work up to quick, sharp one-touch passing.
  • Remind the players to keep the distance between their lines.
  • Players must follow their pass and should increase the speed at which the run to the opposite line as the activity progresses.
  • Encourage the players to bring a voice to the activity. Players should call for passes and get their voices going.
  • Challenge the players to stay on their toes to react to passes from their teammates and use a good first touch or pass to keep the flow of the group going.
  • Motivate the players to connect as many as passes in a row as they can and build their confidence!
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Mr.PETER DAMAS OKEYA - March 21, 2019

Its real workable, my kids U – 14 are full enjoying.
thanks

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