Why is it crucial for your players to warm up properly and what should be included in your soccer warm-up drills?
The main purpose of getting your players to work on their warm-up soccer drills is to raise their heart rate and increase the flow of blood to the muscles. So running activities should always be included somewhere in the soccer coaching warm-up drill. These activities can take a variety of forms including games, races and technique development.
Your soccer warm-up drills should always include activities to engage the players' brains. Get them thinking. Decision-making activities where there are defenders to beat are excellent for this. Don't just use drills where your players are running and shooting in a line.
You should always include some controlled tackling before a game or if your drill session is going to involve tackling. Last season I coached a team where we had a problem with concentration in the first five minutes. To overcome this we played five minutes of controlled 1v1s – defender versus attacker – at the end of our warm-up drill. The problem was quickly solved.
Start off gently and build up the intensity over the course of the warm-up training drill. You can get your players to speed up every two minutes in a 10-minute session.
Different for training and matches
For training, think technically, for matches, think tactically. Don’t waste your warm-up drill on just crossing into a crowd of players in the penalty area. You can focus on a variety of technical issues very effectively during a pre-training warm-up. I often use the warm-up drill to develop running and passing technique in 2v1s. For games, we work on the tactical aspects, like using the wings and defensive set-ups.
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