Whether you are about to start a training session or play a competitive game, properly warming up before playing soccer is crucial for any ambitious and motivated team.
Using well-rehearsed drills is a great way to achieve this goal and one I have often used myself.
To help you out, I have put together my favorite warm-up drills in this article to make your job easier.
The best warm-up drills for soccer are:
- Passing Pairs
- Zigzag Dribbling
- Two Touch Passing
- Quick Feet Ladder
- High Knees
- Circle Keep Away
- One Touch Keep Away
- Side Shuffles
An extensive warm-up routine is known to warm up the players’ muscles, dramatically decreasing the likelihood of severe injury during the game.
While individuals and teams can utilize countless soccer warm-up drills, the list above details eight of the most applicable options for physical performance, enhanced mental clarity, and enabling the team to perform at their highest level.
At the same time, they should enhance coordination, agility, teamwork, performance, and communication.
So, let me take you through each of them now!
1. Passing Pairs
The soccer drill known as passing pairs is among the most prevalent and beneficial warm-up drills you will find.
Usually, players are required to pass the ball back and forth among each other after being broken up into pre-determined pairs.
While the drill is incredibly beneficial in various ways, it quickly enhances communication, precision, and passing accuracy under pressure.
Benefits of this Drill
This drill will benefit passing accuracy, technique, and precision:
- Enhance the passing technique of soccer players globally, although the impact is more pronounced among beginner or non-professional players.
- Encourages constant high-level communication between all the soccer team’s players, indirectly increasing the likelihood of outperforming their opponents and leaving with a victory.
- The distinct way the drill is structured and implemented will ensure all involved players are in direct sync with one another, which is usually effortlessly transferred into competitive in-game scenarios.
Step 1: Instruct the squad to separate into pairs or groups of their choosing.
Step 2: The pairs need to be a minimum of ten yards apart from each other before the highly influential warm-up passing drill can be initiated.
Step 3: Traditionally, the ball’s velocity traveling between the pairs is low. Once both players have their eyes in and muscles warmed up, insist that the pace be increased before alternative variations such as outside foot passes, inside foot passes, and insteps are implemented.
Step 4: It is vital to consistently encourage appropriate communication between each other while simultaneously maintaining a sufficiently steady passing rhythm.
Step 5: Best practice dictates rotating pairs every few minutes; however, the final decision to alternate between pairs remains your sole discretion.
2. Zigzag Dribbling
The zigzag dribbling warm-up routine requires players to dribble the ball through a specific pattern of cones, drastically enhancing their close ball control, general dribbling skills, and rapid directional changes.
Benefits of this Drill
This drill will benefit players’ close ball control, dribbling skills, and directional changes:
- Improve overall dribbling accuracy, which is also influential during warm-up routines before kickoff to highly competitive soccer games.
- Enhances and develops player coordination and agility, allowing the team to start the competitive match on a high note and with unmatched intensity, focus, and direction.
- Increase ability to adapt and successfully overcome challenging in-game scenarios.
Step 1: Create an appropriate space for the zigzag warm-up drill by placing a line or series of cones in a distinctly zigzagging shape. The cones should be positioned five feet apart from one another.
Step 2: Instruct the players on the soccer team to dribble the ball to the last cone without touching or disturbing any of them.
Step 3: Initially, players should utilize their preferred foot steadily, increasing the intensity every few minutes until a realistic in-game scenario is achieved from the highly beneficial soccer warm-up drill.
Step 4: It is vital to consistently emphasize a high level of close ball control and rapid or unexpected direction changes, as this will sufficiently prepare them for the upcoming competitive soccer game.
Step 5: While not being a prerequisite, many respected coaches globally consider repeating the drill several times throughout a warm-up routine to allow for the best possible team outcomes.
3. Two Touch Passing
Two-touch passing is among the most beneficial, practical, and technically advanced warm-up drills currently utilized by soccer teams of any skill level.
This drill requires players to pass the ball among each other while avoiding defenders introduced to intercept the ball by ensuring they use two or fewer touches for the entire procedure.
In addition, the high-intensity soccer warm-up drill will ensure the team’s mental state is optimal, allowing them to perform at their highest level from the instant the referee initiates the kickoff.
Benefits of this Drill
This drill will benefit passing accuracy and hand-eye coordination:
- Improves overall passing accuracy and stimulates optimal hand-eye coordination levels before they step onto the pitch to simulate their skills in highly competitive soccer matches.
- Enhances the all-important first touch control, allowing them to step onto the pitch and perform to the best of their abilities without worrying about getting their eye in.
- Automatically stimulates rapid decision-making processes, enabling players of any skill level to make optimal decisions during intense moments during competitive soccer games.
Step 1: Before initiating the pre-game drill, you must divide the squad into pairs of similar skills or experience.
Step 2: Construct a distinct line of appropriate markers or cones while ensuring they remain at least 15 yards between each other.
Step 3: Instruct team players already separated into their various pairs to pass the ball between each other accurately without using more than two distinct touches.
Step 4: It is critical to clarify that the first touch should remain exclusively reserved for controlling the ball. In contrast, the second touch is utilized for accurate passing.
Step 5: In this soccer drill, far more than most, you must consistently remind players to focus on accuracy and control while passing the ball between one another.
Step 6: Keep things interesting, stimulating, and beneficial by frequently switching players and their positions, ensuring each player’s overall skill set improves.
4. Quick Feet Ladder
The internationally recognized soccer drill known as the quick feet ladder requires players to maneuver their feet as fast as possible through a grid-like ladder demarcated by specific cones or several accurately drawn chalk lines.
While the quick feet ladder drill is mainly incorporated in practice sessions, it has developed into a prominent warm-up drill due to the ever-increasing intensity and competitiveness in beginner, professional, and international soccer games.
Despite being revered among the world’s elite teams, quick or rapid transition passing drills are commonly overlooked or underrated by non-professional team coaches.
Benefits of this Drill
This drill will benefit the player’s foot speed, agility, and overall ball control:
- Increases a player’s foot speed, control, and overall agility, allowing them to perform at their highest level when kickoff is initiated.
- Improves unconscious body movements and control while ensuring their balance remains optimal at crucial times during the soccer game.
- It is considered by many to be the most effective and realistic warm-up peroration regarding the consistently rapid movements required of players during competitive soccer matches.
Step 1: Place or create a grid-like ladder on the training pitch using an appropriate cone setup or chalk outlines.
Step 2: Instruct players to create a single filed line behind one end of the ladder.
Step 3: When you are satisfied with the players’ setup, blow the whistle, indicating they must make their way through the grid-like ladder while ensuring they move their feet in and out of each box as quickly as possible.
Step 4: Consistent speed and foot positioning accuracy must be emphasized.
Step 5: Once a player has progressed through the drill, they must join the end of the line and repeat the drill until they are satisfied.
5. High Knees
The soccer warm-up drill known as high knees requires team players to maneuver dynamically across the field in a rapidly paced jog while maintaining a high knee position.
While the drill is challenging and intense, it is among the most beneficial to teams aiming to compete to the best of their abilities.
Benefits of this Drill
This drill will ensure players are match-ready:
- Increases body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate of players, appropriately preparing players’ physicality to compete at their highest level from the moment the first whistle is sounded.
- Enhances and stimulates overall mobility and hip flexibility, lowering the likelihood of injury while ensuring the player can effectively compete from the game’s first minute.
- Physically prepares and stimulates players for the countless highly physical and explosive movements they will be exposed to during the upcoming competitive soccer game.
Step 1: Instruct players to group and stand still in a specific area of the pitch.
Step 2: When players have complied with your instructions, blow the whistle, indicating they must start jogging in the same direction while emphasizing an exaggerated knee height.
Step 3: Consistently emphasize knee height and rapid leg movement.
Step 4: Ensure players continue their drill until you are satisfied with their warm-up progress.
6. Circle Keep Away
The incredibly efficient and beneficial soccer drill known as circle keep-away is a warm-up drill where players form a circle and pass the ball to teammates.
Maintaining effective ball control, composure, and high-quality decisions under pressure is important while keeping it away from defenders in the center.
This drill enhances passing, receiving, and team coordination.
Benefits of this Drill
This drill will enhance ball control, accuracy, and speed of passes:
- Enhances a pass’s accuracy, control, and speed when the player faces severe opposition during crucial, influential, and decisive moments of the game.
- Promotes positive, beneficial, and responsive ball control between teammates.
- Indirectly promotes and encourages effective communication and teamwork in beginner, professional, and elite soccer teams.
Step 1: It is important to initially instruct your players to create a circle amongst themselves, placing two additional players, as defenders, in the center of the circle.
Step 2: Upon your instruction, players must pass the ball amongst themselves while the two defenders attempt to intercept the passes.
Step 3: If one of the defenders manages to intercept the ball, they will replace the player responsible for the intercepted pass.
Step 4: While this remains a favored drill among most international soccer players, it is vital to consistently emphasize the importance of passing accuracy, precision, and speed.
Step 5: Rorate players when appropriate and periodically, allowing each player to become accustomed to various positions and ball movements.
7. One Touch Keep Away
The soccer drill known as one touch keep away is among the most prevalent due to the significant benefit it induces upon players attempting to warm up for important and highly competitive games.
It is known that this drill necessitates that players pass the ball among each other without allowing it to be intercepted by pre-determined defenders.
By implementing this drill, players can substantially increase their playing abilities and skill levels during the game.
Benefits of this Drill
This skill will benefit passing accuracy, precision, and close control:
- Develops unmatched passing accuracy and precision, crucial during warm-up routines before fiercely competitive games officially commence.
- Improves overall ball control, allowing players of any skill level to pass the ball to their teammates to the best of their abilities, increasing the likelihood the soccer team experiences a positive outcome.
- Promotes rapid and effective ball movement among teammates while ensuring their quick-thinking abilities remain optimal during the most pressurized moments during the upcoming soccer game.
Step 1: Instruct players to form a circle amongst themselves.
Step 2: Upon your instruction, blow the whistle, indicating players must pass the ball between themselves while ensuring they only touch it once throughout the process.
Step 3: It is critical to consistently emphasize and encourage precision, accuracy, and speed throughout the drill’s occurrence.
Step 4: While players focus on the passing drill’s physical and technical aspects, encourage them to scan the field of play, allowing them to make better decisions during stressful moments of a competitive game.
Step 5: To spice things up, add defenders to the circle’s center or change the playing direction at unexpected intervals, keeping players on their toes.
8. Side Shuffles
The famous side shuffle soccer drill requires players to maneuver over a specific area of the training field while ensuring their movements and body position remain sideways throughout.
Despite being less popular among beginner teams, warming up the body by implementing a thorough side shuffle routine has become unavoidable among professional teams due to the incredible range of in-game benefits, leading to its international prevalence dramatically increasing yearly.
However, the passing drill known as passing lanes has become increasingly prevalent among the world’s best teams over the past five years, enabling them to find unexpected gaps, spaces, and angles during intensely competitive game scenarios.
Benefits of this Drill
This drill will benefit lateral movement and in-game agility:
- Stimulates rapid lateral movement, among the most influential factors experienced during closely fought soccer matches. Often, the diffidence in lateral alertness, accuracy, and speed is the direct result of a player appropriately utilizing the side shuffle drill during warm-up sessions before big games throughout the year.
- Strengthening, stimulating, and loosening up the all-important leg muscles, with the tiny differences noticeable during different soccer teams’ warm-up drill routines, frequently making a noteworthy and game-changing impact during crucial moments.
- Enhances players’ overall body and ball control while promoting unmatched in-game agility.
Step 1: Instruct players to initiate the drill at one specifically demarcated playing field area.
Step 2: Upon your instruction, players must shuffle, in a completely sideways manner, to the opposite side of the playing area.
Step 3: It is vital to ensure players maintain an appropriately low stance while ensuring consistently rapid movements across the outlined area.
Step 4: Players must repeat the drill in opposite directions of the field until they are satisfied with their progress and performance.
While numerous and applicable soccer warm-up drills exist, the eight detailed, explored, and discussed in this article are undoubtedly the most beneficial to most teams globally.
It is important to remember that soccer warm-up drills should be team-specific, meaning you can adjust and alter them slightly to best suit your team’s specific requirements.
For more soccer drills, check out this list I put together here.