How to warm-up for Soccer

The warm-up is an almost ritual part of any training session and gameday in football. It prepares the players not only mentally but also physically for the upcoming training session or game day. In our training blog you will learn everything about the ideal warm-up program in soccer.

Most players use the warm-up program to bring each other up to date or in a football mindset. However, a well-structured warm-up before training sessions and games, in addition to the social aspects, serves primarily to put players in an ideal state of performance, without neglecting injury prevention. Both the performance-enhancing and the injury-prevention aspects can easily be integrated into the warm-up program without any loss of quality. The three phases of a warm-up program in soccer guarantee the highest level of efficiency and a successful start to every training session [1,2].

Phase 1: Activation of the metabolism

In the first part of the warm-up, a relaxed eight-minute aerobic exercise can already optimize body and muscle temperature. At the same time, it promotes blood circulation and stimulates the nervous system of the players [1, 2]. The activation of the central nervous system in particular increases important cognitive abilities of the players, such as reaction time and attention, which in the end also benefits the coach.

But that's not all - in this phase, other physiological mechanisms, such as heart rate and oxygen absorption capacity are also increased. All these positive effects are already promoted by easy runs with and without a ball. These include simple dribbling and pass exercises without any competitive tasks. Explosive movements and active stretching are strongly discouraged at this stage as injuries may occur.

Phase 2: Mobilize and Activate

In the second phase, the football-specific muscles and joints are then brought to operating temperature. During the ten-minute "Activate & Mobilize", the joints and muscles are prepared for the physical demands of the soccer game by larger and dynamic movements. In addition to an increased muscle blood flow, the goal of this phase is to optimize control of the respective muscles. This is achieved primarily through a so-called "movement preparation", which consists of dynamic activation exercises with a slight stretching impulse [1,2,3].

In the first part of the second warm-up phase, players should complete dynamic stretching exercises such as the "hand walk" from the basic "walking" movement for 5-10 repetitions per exercise. Then classic stabilization exercises can be performed to strengthen the trunk, which activate the core for the upcoming demands of a training session or game. The selected exercises should aim for a so-called 360° muscle activation of the core, which involves the anterior, posterior and lateral trunk area. The classic core exercise "Plank" is one of many suitable examples to activate and strengthen the anterior trunk muscles. The "side plank" is an example of the activation of the lateral and "bridging" for the back of the trunk.sms, such as heart rate and oxygen absorption capacity are also increased. All these positive effects are already promoted by easy runs with and without a ball. These include simple dribbling and pass exercises without any competitive tasks. Explosive movements and active stretching are strongly discouraged at this stage as injuries may occur.

Phase 3: Soccer-specific movements

The final phase of the warm-up now serves as the perfect transition to the soccer specific part of the practice session and gameday, preparing players for explosive movements. Agility runs, sprints and especially technical components such as goal shots, 1 on 1s and passes are gradually being added in this phase. Small-sides games are a good way to integrate all these aspects in one exercise. Thus, the muscles are optimally prepared for the demands of the upcoming training session as well as game situations. This part of the warm-up usually takes 15-20 minutes and should be tailored to the contents of the upcoming session.

In our next blog post, we show you an example of what an efficient warm-up program in soccer looks like.

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Sources:

1] Schlumberger, A. (2014). Präventive Maßnahmen. In H.-W. Müller-Wohlfahrt, P. Ueblacker & L. Hänsel.
[2] Niedermeyer, D. (2017). Verletzungsmechanismen der ischiocruralen Muskulatur beim Fußballspiel und die Möglichkeiten der Prävention. Bachelors-Thesis, Technische Universität München.
[3] Gamble, P. (2012). Training for Sports Speed and Agility. An evidence-based approach.
[4] Steinmann, H.-J. & Allwang, D. (2009). Verletzungen im Sport. vermeiden - behandeln - therapieren.

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