A soccer warm-up drill helps prepare the body for activity. It focuses the mind on what is coming next.
Soccer warm up exercises have many benefits, like reducing the risk of injury, increasing body temperature, improving mental focus, increasing range in motion, and activating the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
Kids need warm up drills to prepare for practice or a game, as they help introduce a skill or technique.
Best Soccer Warm Ups for Various Age Levels
1. Passing Warm Up
A passing warm-up drill lets your players focus on receiving and passing while also allowing them to get a lot of touches on the ball. Split your team into groups of two players with one ball per group.
You will need to set up training cones to create a five-yard passing lane, about ten yards apart.
Then, set a different colored cone about five yards from the passing lane to create a triangle. Your players should then position themselves across the passing lane from their partners. Your players will begin with two touch passes to each other and should be moving and on the balls of their feet.
This dynamic warm up soccer drill is excellent for all age groups and is a great way to teach players to pass and receive effectively. The speed of the ball will be much quicker than a dribble, so passing is crucial for kids to learn so they can advance in their skill level over time.
2. Sharks and Minnows
Sharks and Minnows is a classic playground game that can be turned into a fun drill. Each player will need a ball except for at least two sharks. The minnows, or players with the ball, will maintain their ball control.
To keep the sharks from getting them, they must keep them close.
You will need to use training cones to build your playing area of about twenty yards in each direction. The amount of space you use can vary depending on how many players participate in the drill.
When you are ready to begin the game, the sharks start in the middle, and the minnows start at one side of the field.
The minnows will dribble from one side of the field to the other while not allowing the sharks to intercept the ball and kick it out of the zone.
If the ball gets kicked out of the zone, you can create a “punishment” that they need to do to get back on the field.
The main objective of Sharks and Minnows is to learn proper footwork and maintain control of the ball. This game is a great drill for U6 players because it is so fun and keeps their attention. Older children can undoubtedly use this drill as well, but younger children generally will enjoy this more.
3. Soccer Tic-Tac-Toe
This fun soccer warm up drill for your players helps them learn how to make good decisions while under pressure.
Youwill need to set two cones as the starting point, about three yards apart. Use the cones to create a tic-tac-toe board, which should be about ten yards away from the starting cones.
The first three players in group one will need yellow pinnies, and the first three players in group two will need to wear red pinnies.
The first player in each line will race to the tic-tac-toe board and drop a pinnie in one of the spaces.
Those players will then race back to the line, slap hands with the next player in line, and let the next player race to the board to do the same thing. When player three drops their last pinnie on the board, you will determine which team won the tic-tac-toe game.
If the game is not won, the players will slap hands with the next player, allowing player four to race to the board.
Player four will not have a pinnie, so they can race to the board and move one of their colored pinnies to open up a space. This game will continue until one team wins the game, and you can continue playing for up to five wins.
The objective of soccer tic-tac-toe is to teach your players to make good decisions while under pressure and to work together.
4. Circle Rondo
Circle Rondo is an excellent pregame soccer warm up drill. You will need to use cones to make a circle that measures a diameter of about ten yards. Position your two defenders inside of the circle. The remaining players are evenly spaced around the circle outside.
The players on the outside of your circle will begin the drill with a pass to one of the players on the outside. The players on the outside will attempt to possess the ball without allowing the defensive players to maintain possession.
The defensive players will move inside your circle to cut passing lanes off and win the ball. If possession of the ball is lost to a defensive player, a bad touch, or a bad loss, the player that made a mistake will switch roles with one of the defenders.
The purpose of circle rondo is to teach your players how to keep the position of their ball. Your players will learn to think ahead of a play, leading them to be ready immediately. You can get as creative as you want with this rill.
5. Figure 8 Dribbling
Figure 8 Dribbling helps your athletes brush up on the basics. You must make two 5x5 yard grids that measure about five yards apart.
Put two training sticks three yards apart in the center of the grids. Then, set a cone on each grid end to make it a pentagon. One player will start with a ball between the training sticks.
Players should play this drill for one minute and rotate with a partner. Depending on your players, you can set up multiple obstacle courses.
A player will dribble in a figure eight pattern through the center of the training sticks and around the cones with no dribbling restrictions.
Once they dribble to their left, they should use the outside of their left foot to dribble as they travel. When traveling tight, they should use the outside of their right foot to dribble.
When your player dribbles to their left, allow them to dribble utilizing the inside of their right foot.
Figure 8 dribbling mainly focuses on practicing dribbling skills. Your players will learn how to control dribble speed, keep the ball close, and control touches of the ball using the inside and outside of their feet while keeping their heads up.
6. Zig Zag Dribbling
Zig Zag dribbling focuses on fast dribbling using the inside, outside, and bottom of players’ feet. You will need cones about five yards apart in a zig-zag design. The length of the design should be about twenty yards long. Your players will line up with a ball at the last cone.
To play, your first player will dribble around the cones in a zig-zag. Once the dribbling player reaches the end, they will sprint the course’s distance and run to the line. The players will go through the zig-zag a few times to get familiar.
They should generally dribble when moving to their right side, and when they move to the left, they should roll the ball with the sole of their right foot. Change the pattern to move like normal when moving left, but roll the ball to the left foot’s sole once they move to the right.
Zig zag dribbling teaches players how to dribble with speed and handle the ball. They will learn how to dribble with their foot's inside, outside, and sole.
You can plus up this drill by adding a net and having the kids score at the end of the dribble. Check out our soccer rebounders to keep the ball in play and prevent lost time chasing down the ball.
7. Catch Me If You Can
To set up Catch Me If You Can, create a 10x10 yard grid. Start a player on two diagonal corners of the grid while ensuring they have a ball. To play, yell “GO.”
The players dribble around outside the grid, attempting to catch their partner. When you yell “STOP”, the players must stop the ball. When you yell “TURN,” they switch directions around the grid.
This drill helps improve your players’ dribbling skills while making it a fun and competitive exercise. They will learn to improve the speed of dribbling and maintain control of the ball.
8. Clean Your Room
Clean Your Room drill is a fun warm up game for soccer for players U5 through U8. Make a grid of 15x15 yards. You can adjust it depending on your skills and how many players there are. One player is assigned to clean the room.
The other player will be the defender and knock everyone’s balls out of the grid. Besides the room cleaner, every player will need a ball. Have your players dribble around the grid.
Release the room cleaner into the grid and let them steal the ball from the dribbling players. The cleaner should kick the ball outside of the grid, and the dribblers must retrieve their balls quickly.
When every ball is out of the grid, the room is clean.
Clean Your Room focuses on dribbling under pressure. It also works on defensive pressure as a small group or individual.
9. Fill The Bucket
Fill The Bucket requires two teams of three players to set up three balls at each end of the field. Each team has a bucket, a small zone in the middle of their line. The two players begin at one end and the other player starts at the opposite end.
Players will dribble the ball one at a time into the middle on a signal, leaving it in the bucket. Once they leave the ball, they run to the other end and tag the next player on the other side. The tagged player takes his turn. The first team to get all six balls into the bucket wins the game.
Fill The Bucket teaches players to keep their ball close enough to stop at all times. They also learn how to sprint to stop the ball.
10. Line Passing Combination Warm Up
Set up this line passing drill with four cones along the sideline about ten yards apart. The player on one of the far cones begins the drill with the ball. To play, player one passes to player two, who returns the ball to the first player.
Player one then passes to the third player, who returns the ball to player two. Player two passes to player four, who returns the ball to player three. Player three passes to player four, who passes back to player two.
The pattern is repeated as the players move down the field in a straight line.
These warm up soccer exercises work on advancing upfield. It focuses mainly on runs, the timing of passes, and combination play.
Youth soccer players should practice warm up drills to gain better mental focus and prevent the risk of injury before a game or practice. These warm up exercises for soccer will ensure your players improve their skills, while also having fun.