Youth soccer players require age-appropriate warm-up activities, which they can perform without wearing out their strength. As a coach, you can prepare your team for more challenging techniques ahead of the game by giving them simple workout exercises like jogging, rope skipping, squats, and stretches. Practicing the right skills will help the players develop resilience, speed, stamina, and the energy to stay on the field until the final whistle blows.
Here are some simple but valuable warm-up ideas to keep your team going;
Forward and Backward Jogging
A jog forward and backward is good for the cardiovascular system. It improves oxygen circulation throughout the body and keeps the player fit. In addition, the effort required to jog backward will help your players build stamina and speed.
The players also prepare mentally to receive the ball in either direction, whether they receive it backward or forwards. In preparation for the actual game, backward jogging strengthens the glutes, hamstrings, calf muscles, and quadriceps.
Frog Jumps/ Leap Frog
Nothing sets the mood for official soccer practice than frog Jump warm-up exercises, besides improving the young players' cardio fitness, joints, muscles, and lower body strength in readiness for the game. This routine will help your team gain more speed and power as they jump up and down from one spot to the next.
This warm-up idea is fun and achievable. To get the young soccer players up to the task,
- Ask them to stand with their feet spread out at shoulder width.
- Bend their knees.
- Maintain a straight back and push their bodies upward using as much strength as possible.
- Maintain the posture after landing and repeat the drill about five times.
The best way to keep your team engaged during warm-up is to create mini-competitions. Soccer players are naturally competitive, and this strategy will give you the desired results.
Since the main idea of sprinting is running with the highest possible speed, racing against each other makes the players achieve their maximum potential in a competitive mode. You can encourage them to jog for up to three minutes after a sprinting session to help them cool down into a perfect stop.
Your players can gain flexibility and build muscles with simple stretches before they take the field. In addition, they gain more stability, which reduces the likelihood of soreness and injuries. They can start with butterfly stretches, pigeon stretches, hamstring stretches, and hip flexor quad stretches.
You can guide the young players in butterfly stretches using the following steps;
- Sit upright with your feet touching the soles.
- Hold both ankles using your hands.
- Remain in this position for up to three minutes.
- Rest and repeat.
For pigeon stretch,
- Bend forward, with one leg parallel to the floor, as you tuck the other below your waist.
- Place your hands on the floor or yoga blocks for support.
- Rest in this position for up to three minutes.
- Untuck the tucked leg and straighten it back as you fold the other leg in an alternate position.
- Repeat up to five times.
You can gradually introduce other stretches depending on how the players respond to the beginner drills.
Lunges are good for building strength and muscle mass. Players must maintain their position while playing and avoid fatigue or low stamina. When players perform lunges, they can develop a strong core, strong legs, and improved motion and posture depending on the type of lunge.
This warm-up exercise is applicable in various ways using forward, backward, and sideways movements. You can also introduce twists to break the monotony.
To perform lunges;
- Hold your waist.
- Bend the right leg at a 90° angle at the knee.
- Lower the left leg down until the knee touches the floor.
- Make a forward, backward, or sideways movement as you rise.
- Maintain your weight around the heel.
- Exchange the position of your legs and start again.
Make sure your back is straight, and your weight is evenly distributed on your heels when lunging. Then, add dumbbells or other upper-body stunts to spice it up.
Toe-touching is a dynamic warm-up exercise you can perform in more than one way. For example, you can lie down on your back, lift your legs straight, stretch your hands to reach your toes, and strengthen several muscles.
You can also reach your toes by bending forward, straightening your back and legs, and stretching your hands. In the lying toe touch, you sit up and touch your toes after lying on your back parallel to the floor.
In conclusion, youth players can benefit from many warm-up exercises that can be introduced to the team and advanced as they become accustomed to the routines. A simple adjustment or twist unlocks new levels of body warming with toe touches, sprints, jogging, and lunges. Keep the young players' muscles strong and flexible by having them perform at least one stretch during each practice session.