Warm-Up Best Practise for Football
The positive effects of a good warm up have been well documented yet during the winter months with limited training time, the warm up is often compromised. This leads to players starting sessions or even matches stiff, ill-prepared and at risk of injury through muscular tears.
In our experience, footballers and the coaches tend to have an indifference in their approach to warm ups. This is probably due to the fact that coaches are focused on the training session they are about to coach and the message they want to get across. They therefore forget to prepare anything as a warm up leading to the traditional shout of ‘3-laps round the pitch’.
This form of warm up is unimaginative, unreflective of the demands of football and de-motivating.
The warm up sets the tone for the coaching session and should be treated as a session in its own respect. So long as the coach sticks to the correct training principles, the warm up should be as innovative and enjoyable as possible.
Warm Up Principles
The warm up, even in cold weather should be no longer than 15 minutes and less in the summer months.
Ensure there is a theme to the warm up. If the following coaching session is focused upon attacking play, then teach simple ball skills during the warm up that reflect this.
- Start with a slow tempo to get blood flowing and body temperature increased.
- Keep the initial movements simple focusing on the major muscle groups
- By all means, introduce simple ball skills into the warm up at a low level
- Recreate movement patterns found in the game
- Do not drag the warm up on aimlessly
- Ensure the players have time to stretch for a small period of time during the warm up (stretch for no more than 3 minutes).
The purpose of the warm up is to prepare the players physiologically and psychologically for the ensuing training session. Keep things simple and sharp to encourage the players mentally ‘tune-in’ to the training session.
The warm up is a great time to focus on footwork drills, ball techniques and speed work as the players are fresh and alert.
The warm up is not the ideal time to spend trying to improve player flexibility. Long periods of static stretching will lead to muscles becoming cold and less elastic, stick to dynamic movements interspersed with brief periods of stretching.
The bottom line is that a good warm up can lead into an enjoyable training session. The flip side of this is that a poor warm up will lead into a coaching session where players are disinterested or ill prepared leading to frustration for the coach!