A good warm-up exercise is an integral part of every football preparation. It prepares the body for the activity ahead and ensures the mind is ready for it.
In fact, your general performance lies heavily on how good a warm-up you’ve had is.
This is why it’s best to do the right warm-up exercise before you go for a match.
Not just the regular static stretch, I mean dynamic warm-ups and other exercises aimed at specific areas of your body that will be used for the match.
Moreover, a poor warm up will definitely affect your performance on the pitch, and increase your chances of injury.
But if you don’t agree, then it’s fine.
This article highlights the best football warm-up exercises that guarantees peak performance on the field.
Let’s start with some background knowledge first.
What are training sessions?
Training sessions are regular warm-up sessions for athletes. Where a training session may differ from a match day warm up is in the variation of the warm up content.
Warm up for training sessions aim to prepare players for the appropriate intensity of the training session.
Some training sessions may be longer, to add more technicality to the variety of warm-up exercises.
It may also be extended to help young players get acquainted with what is to come on the match day.
Hence, the integration of structured skill-based and physical competence activities during a prolonged warm-up will add a good amount of athletic development and performance time over a season.
Is warming up important?
Of course they are so important. Warm-ups are exercises performed before a major practice.
It prepares the body for the intended event by activating the muscles for the vigorous action that will take place.
More so, footballers take warm-ups so importantly as it helps improve their stamina before the game.
Other benefits for them includes;
- Increases the body temperature
- Activates the respiratory system
- Improves focus on the game at hand
- Increases range of motion
- Activates cardiovascular system
Warm-ups are a vital part of every training. Without it, footballers may not reach maximum performance, and could endanger himself, leading to serious injuries.
Equipment for training session
Regular warm-up exercises don’t require lots of equipment. However, it is necessary to have cones, discs, hurdles, hoops, and balls.
Equipment help to get the individual more engaged in the activity. More so, it aids to control the activity in terms of distance to run, angle of change of direction, range of movement exposure and jump height.
Common Football Warm up Exercises
Below are some of the most common football warm-up exercises for players. They include both dynamic and static exercises.
#1. Leg Swings – Forward and back
Leg swings are a good way to warm up your body and get your legs stretched.
More so because football involves a lot of running, and running backwards when you’re defending against an opponent.
And to stimulate your running and walking motion, you’ll want to swing your leg forward and backwards (preferably with the balance support of a partner or the goalpost).
This warm-up exercise is good for athletes as it stretches out your quads and hamstrings, which gives a wider range of motion when running in a match.
#2. Leg Swing – Lateral
One of the common features of football is the lateral movement of the players. They do not just stay in a straight line.
Lateral leg swings warm-ups helps footballers stay in place when there is a quick change in pace.
More so, they help with rotation and mobility around the pelvic and hip areas and are necessary for stability when it comes to making pivots and sharp changes in direction.
#3. Calf Bounces
In football, expect yourself to go from 0-100 at any moment, and your calves play a big role.
Calf bounces trains your calves for that big movement on the field. To perform this warm-up exercise, get into a push up position and simulate a kicking motion where your knees bend.
Try to push off your calves as you work to get ready for those high-intensity sprints for the ball.
#4. Linear knee raise
This is the most common football warm-up exercise. It involves dynamic stretches while moving.
To perform, stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and arms resting at your sides. Slowly bring your knee up towards your chest. Pause at the top.
Hold for at least 15 seconds before your drop your legs. Peform 15 reps for each leg.
This exercise helps to improve flexibility and mobility.
Carioca is another dynamic football warm up exercise that improves your flexibility and mobility.
It increases body and muscle temperature and heart rate, to get you ready for the main deal.
To perform, begin with your feet a little wider than hip-distance apart. Cross your left foot behind your right foot, then take your right foot over so you’re back to your starting position.
Then cross your left foot in front of your right foot. Continue moving until you reach the end of your planned distance. Ensure you move a distance of 10 yards.
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What’s a good football warm up exercise without jogging. It is a cardio exercise that gets your heart pumping.
Jog around the pitch and get your body moving. Sweat it out a little but don’t push yourself too hard. On top of forward jogs, alternate by doing jogging backwards as well to get a wider range of motion
Because it is a warm-up exercise, it’s best to keep it light.
The inchworm is a HIIT class routine that increases strength and flexibility. The only thing required here is your body weight.
To perform, stand with your feet close together. Keeping your legs straight, stretch down and put your hands on the floor directly in front of you.
Walk your hands forward slowly until you’re in a press-up position, then walk your feet forwards until they reach your hands. Then walk your hands out again and repeat.
Do this for 15 reps.
#8. Side shuffles
Another common football warm up exercise is the side shuffle. You don’t just move forward or backward during a game, lateral movements are included too.
Whether you’re jockeying an attacker, shifting to the side to cover a vacant space, or just tracking an opponent, you’ll want to be ready for any sideways shuffle. Hence the need for side shuffle warm-up.
To ensure your hips and back are able to rotate and flex freely when you’re turning, dribbling or defending against an opponent, you’d want to get your side shuffles right.
Although side shuffles can be difficult to get at first, consistent practice helps you get the rhythm and movement right.
#9. Relay Warm-ups
Relay warm-ups are used to prepare players, even though it’s seen as a competitive aspect of the exercises.
There are different variations to the relay warm-ups. They include; relay race in lines and the tic-tac-toe.
For relay race in lines, you start with some dynamic motions to get the players warmed up and then you have the teams compete in relay races doing different movement.
Relay race warm-ups can also be performed using a ball to improve dribbling and passing skills.
While for the tic-tac-toe, the first player in each line runs down to the tic-tac-toe grid and places their pinnie on a cone on the “go” signal.
The first player then runs back and tags the next player in line who runs down to put their pinnie in play.
The goal is for one team to get three pinnies in a row. Once a team has all four pinnies in play, the players who run down must move one of their teams’ pinnies that are already on the grid to a new location. The game goes on until one of the teams wins.
#10. Tag games
Tag games are another common football warm-up exercise. It is a way of adding a touch of fun to the warm-up games.
The engaging aspect of the games provides a fun and competitive environment for the players.
There are two kinds of tag games – pinnie tag and two yard tag. In the pinnie tag, the coach sets up a grid and assigns two players to be taggers with pinnies in their hands.
The players then move inside the grid by doing a specific dynamic warm-up movement.
Taggers try to tag the free players and if one succeeds he is no more the tagger and gives his pinnie to the player tagged.
The pinnie tag ranges from 30 to 60 seconds, and at the end of each round, the players holding the pinnie perform an extra exercise like push-ups r sit-ups to motivate the players.
In the two yard tag, the coach divides the players into two teams and make them partner with a player from the opposing team.
The coach gives signal by calling one of the two teams. One team is called the tagger, while the other is known as the runner.
Taggers earn points by tagging their opponent and runners do so by making it to the cones without being tagged.
#11. Vertical tuck jumps
Vertical tuck jumps are very important if you’re looking to head the ball just right, or at least manage an aerial strike fro an opponent.
To perform this warm-up exercise, jump high and tuck your knees in mid air to prepare your calves, glutes and back for aerial battles.
It’s important you start low and progressively go higher as you warm up.
#12. Dynamic warm-ups
Dynamic warm-ups are exercises that mimick the type of training your team will be doing.
The aim of this warm-up exercise is to increase the blood-flow to the areas which will be functional in the different exercises awaiting the players.
Also, a total body warm-up will make the nervous system wake up, and help the player reach maximum focus before engaging in soccer training.
Below is a list of dynamic warm-ups you can incorporate
- Jumping jacks
- Quad stretches
- Side shuffles
- Toe touches
- Inside touches
- Forward and backward jogging
- Butt Kickers
- Two foot jumps
- Knee to chest stretch
- High knees
Dynamic warm-ups can be performed in different patterns such as in a line, in a square, in a circle, or in a figure-eight pattern.
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Squat can be another good football warm-up exercise, as it walks your hips, calves, glutes, and arms simuteaneously.
To perform, Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Your toes should be pointed slightly outwards and your shoulders should be relaxed.
Looking straight ahead and keeping your back straight, bend your knees to drop down. Make sure your weight is on your heels and not on your toes.
Other common football warm-up exercises include;
It’s hard to talk about football warm-up exercise without mentioning stretching. Stretching is an exercise that can be performed statically or dynamically.
Dynamic stretches are a valuable part of the warm-up routines. This is because, they expose the joints and soft tissues to a progressive increase in range of movement and velocity changes.
Static stretch on the other hand has been said to have negative effects on athletic performance.
They affect several outcomes such as reduced peak muscle contraction, agility, speed, to mention a few.
#15. Heel kicks
#16. Walking lunges
#17. Zig zag runs
#19. Arm circles
What to do after a football match
Whoosh! The match is finally over, your team won, congratulations. After slogging it out for 90 minutes, it’s a good option to immediately hit the showers to cool down.
However, it’s not the best option.
Instead of going to the shower, spend around ten minutes cooling down after you’ve played football,to reduce your risk of injury.
Stretch all parts of your body that you used for the match, which includes your hamstrings, calves, glutes, and thighs. You can do this by static stretching.
Static stretching means that you can slowly stretch a muscle for at least 30 seconds until you feel resistance. If you feel any pain, then it’s an indication to stop stretching.
A good football warm-up exercise never goes out of style. This means that if you want to have a total engagement of your body parts such as calves, glutes, and hamstrings for the match, then you need to carry out some of these common warm-up exercises.