Start games strongly

What I love about my U9s team is that when I come out to warm them up before a match they are all ready and sitting there waiting for me… with a cheer they all descend on the bag of training balls and start warming themselves up.

Of course there is always a cheeky one who gets out the match ball and starts playing with it … until I remind them it isn’t a warm up ball! But they are ready which is a massive boost when I need them to concentrate on the match ahead. They know I will want 5 minutes of individual ball skills, then react when I ask them to get into a Rondo.

This will all take up about 20 minutes of warming up for the game. Add in a few minutes where we chat about the game, about the weather, about the pitch and that is them prepped for starting the game quickly.

Last week we played a cup game where one of my wingers scored a hat-trick in the first 7 minutes. Ready to play? You bet!

Make sure you have some warm-ups to get your players fired up for matches, like these four favourites of mine:

One of the best warm-ups for eager younger players is Bib pull-away. It’s simple to set up and great for young players who have energy to harness. Plus, it focuses young minds on individual responsibility within a team.

One of my go-to warm-ups is One touch passing. It’s ideal on match day as it gets players moving the ball quickly and with purpose as soon as they get onto the pitch.

For a more elaborate warm-up, Chase the cones is a great problem-solving activity that will energise brains and bodies. I saw this game used by Real Madrid at a training session before an important game, so I know it works. Check it out because it’s good fun for older players.

Finally, for a focused goal-scoring session, Total finishing warm-up gets pairs of strikers to combine and create chances for each other in the penalty area. It is great for technique as well as the movement. Use this warm-up to make sure your strikers are switched on in the final third of the pitch.

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