10 Soccer Warm Up Drills to Get Your Players Locked In

If you are finding it difficult to play the beautiful game, then we would recommend that you practice a few drills during training to make sure that you’re ready for whatever a match throws at you.

These can range from very simple tactics to hard-and-fast play that improves coordination.

Often the pros will tell you that there are a few things that you’ll need to do to make sure your legs and thighs are as limber as they possibly can be before you hit that field.

You can be sure that your body will be able to take the mental and physical endurance of a full 90 minute game of football.

If you follow these 10 simple rules that we’re about to lay out for you, then you’ll notice a drastic improvement in your game.

We’ll pinpoint all the areas that need work and will help you to develop your footwork, the short game, and the long game. 

We’ll help you increase your stamina and make sure that you can give it 100% for the whole match.

Because what are the top ten drills that you’ll need to perform to make sure that you’re going to smash the opposition? What games can you play to increase your speed, your footwork and how easy it will be to isolate the ball?

How can you get possession of the ball faster and make sure that it stays at the opposition end?

Well, if you are serious about your game and you want to increase your chances of winning, then keep reading.

We’ve got 10 simple things that you need to do to make sure that you’re keeping pace with everyone else and not letting your team down when it comes to crunch time.

Remember one of the most important things for training is to lower the rate of injury and prepare you mentally and physically for the game ahead.

One single sprained ankle is all you need to keep you out of action for potentially six months.

10 Soccer Warm Up Drills to Get Your Players Locked In

1. Play A Game Of Tag With Your Teammates

How Does This Drill Work?

This first drill is very simple, all you have to do is make sure that all your team reaches the end of the pitch from the halfway line without anyone tagging you.

This is a simple game of speed if, when performed enough, will increase your running ability.

This will increase the player’s heart rate and get them ready to play a big game.

You should make sure that you stretch first before hitting the field. This will train every muscle in the leg, actively engaging it to ensure that you are limber and ready for play.

Setting Up The Drill

  • Take a row of cones and set them up at intervals along the halfway line.
  • Divide your players into two teams and assign them a color.
  • Have the two teams line up back-to-back at the middle cone. You should make sure there is at least one yard of space between each cone.
  • Then decide the number of rounds that you are going to play. We recommend anywhere between 8 to 12 rounds to make sure your players are properly warmed up but not burnt out.

Alternative Methods

  • Soccer ball - you can have the running team have a ball, giving them the extra challenge of dribbling as they run away.
  • Change the distance - have your players run further from the halfway line to increase their stamina.

Once the color of the chasing team is called, make sure that they run immediately. You can train your players to run faster and faster each time their team color is called.

Make sure that your players perform dynamic stretches before and after this exercise to avoid strained calves and sprained ankles.

Remember that the whole point of this exercise is to increase speed and performance, not injury.

2. Pass The Ball In A Circle

How Does This Drill Work?

The players involved in the drill stand in a rough circle with their own soccer ball.

The players then pass the ball along the outer edge of the circle, who then accepts the ball and then dribbles it out, repeating the process. 

Each player has to switch places with the person that they’ve passed the ball to.

This drill is meant to get the player’s muscles warmed up, while improving their passing and dribbling skills.

This will allow them to work on their first touch of the ball, increasing the pace and intensity of the playing.

How to Set This Drill Up

  • Form a circle of players, you can use the center of the field if it already has one drawn on it.
  • Two players start in the center of the circle. The more players you have then the more touches you will get off the ball.
  • Ideally, this whole drill should last anywhere between 6-10 minutes.

Alternative Methods

  • One-Two Pass - this is where your players complete a one-two pass before the receiver dribbles the ball to the outside of the circle.
  • Two-touch - this will increase the skill with which your player handles the first touch, forcing them to concentrate before making the second touch and getting the ball outside the circle. This will encourage the players to accelerate their pace and increase their concentration.

Make sure you start this movement slowly and you don’t tax the player’s natural abilities before they get started with their movements.

You should increase the tempo of this game as your players gradually become more and more developed.

Make sure that your players remain light on their feet and limit the amount of contact that they have with the ball.

Also make sure that they communicate with their teammates, as this will decrease the level of collisions.

3. Learn To Command As You Dribble

How Does This Drill Work?

This is a very simple move, all the players have to do is dribble to a designated zone, following the coach’s movement and commands.

This is a simple warm-up tactic that will get the player’s limbs very responsive, improving their dribbling skills and giving them the ability to be able to tackle and increase the duration of this activity.

How to Set This Drill Up

  • Make a square on the floor that is 20-25 yards wide, although the size of your square should be modified for the number of people that you have in the group. This will be to avoid injury and clashes.
  • You need to make sure that all the players are in the center of this circle.
  • The usual time limit for this should be anywhere between 8-12 minutes.

Alternative Methods

  • How big is the grid - if your players are particularly skilled, then you can decrease the size of your grid, making them much more conscious of their activity levels. This will also make players dribble with their heads up, encouraging more intuition between the player and the ball.

If you are coaching players, make sure they are keenly aware of the space around them. If you have a few players that are injured, then it will guarantee you a called-off match.

Make sure that you keep this activity slow and increase the level of skill over time. Make sure that you get your players to dribble with their eyes up, as this will decrease the likelihood of injury.

Make sure that your players are communicating with each other regularly, as this will lower the chances of injury and motivate them to listen to the instructions of the other players and the coach.

Ideally, your players should be keeping the ball close to them and making sure that they respond to your commands as quickly as possible.

This drill aims to improve the reaction time of your players and ensure that they respond to commands quickly.

4. Use Dribbling Gates

How Does This Drill Work?

This drill is another very simple one, in that the players try to get their ball through as many gates as possible within a limited time frame.

They can’t dribble through the same gate twice in a row, nor can they dribble using the same repetitive pattern.

They are not allowed to touch the soccer ball of another player and are penalized for doing so.

Once the coach signals for the moves to be over, the players freeze and have to raise their hands when they have completed 5 gates, 10 gates and so on.

The purpose of this game is a competitive yet friendly warm-up that will double the heart rate of many players, as well as their body temperature.

How to Set Up This Move:

  • Take 4 cones and use them to set up a square grid that is anywhere between 30 and 40 yards wide. However, you can amend this if there are lots of players to avoid clashes.
  • Each gate should be around 2-3 yards wide, with as many gates as there are players.
  • The starting point of all the players has to be inside the grid, each one with a soccer ball.
  • There should be a time limit on each player with around 1-3 minutes per game.

Alternative Methods

  • Weaker foot - have your players start with their weaker foot first to increase the muscle tone in each.
  • Increase the size of the grid - increase the size of the grid so that there is more space for the players to move through. Decrease the size of the gates to make it more difficult for your players to get through.
  • 1 versus 1 - get various players to try and take the ball off each other as they navigate through the gates.

Make sure that your players are well warmed up before they hit the gate track. Having warmed-up muscles and increased heart rate is what will make the player’s body know they are ready for intense exercise.

Make sure that there is plenty of dynamic stretching and jogging before your players hit the field.

Encourage your players to keep their eyes up while they are playing, as this will make them form good habits.

Eye contact and good communication make all the difference between a good team and a great team.

The ball should be in constant contact with your players so that they remain in control of the ball at all times.

This is very important when it comes to attacking and defending, you must keep the opposing side guessing at all times.

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5. Flex your Soccer Muscles During warm Up

How Does This Drill Work?

This drill is not very complicated, with a series of runs and stretches that will get their bodies nice and limber for training.

All the players have to do is run a 20-yard length, changing their sprint to a sideways movement before doing a different stretch at the end of the course.

Once the players have reached the end of their course, they will perform a quad stretch, a hamstring pull, leg swings or lunges.

This is not only designed to stretch every muscle in a player’s body but it is also designed to keep them flexible and their heart rate high enough for training.

How to Set This Drill Up

  • Make a parallel line of two cones across a 10 or 20-yard space.
  • Divide your players up into two different lines, starting in the same position at the first cone.

Alternative Methods

  • Stretches - you can augment the number of stretches that you add to these player’s course. This will all depend on the endurance levels of your athletes, as well as how able they are of completely multiple stretches before training without getting tired.

Remember to start slow with the level of jogging and increase your player’s levels in increments.

You’ll need to make allowances for younger players who might not be experienced with their bodies yet.

You’ll need to prompt your players to make sure that they avoid injury. This will be the main factor that you want to avoid during training, as it could be a severe impediment to your game.

6. Yank On Your Teammates Jersey

How Does This Drill Work?

This is where the players will simply pull on the shirt of another player while protecting their own.

This simple game of tag is very fun for all players involved, it gets the player’s bodies moving and increases their stamina for training.

However, make sure that the players do some light jogging and dynamic stretching before they do this drill.

How to Set This Drill Up

  • Set up a square using cones. The size will all depend on the number of players that you’ll be using. We would recommend that you start with around 25 x 25 yards.
  • Give your players colored jerseys.
  • Tuck your player’s jerseys into the back of their shorts with a little material sticking out. This will be the player’s ‘tail’, which their opponent has to yank out.
  • Spread out across the court or the pitch without a ball and wait for the coach to start the game with a signal.
  • We would recommend that you have a time limit of around 2-4 minutes per game with 3-5 rounds per target.

Alternative Methods

  • Last Man Standing - this is when you eliminate players based on who gets their tail pulled first. As fewer players are on the pitch, more focus will be placed on the ones that are left.
  • Most Pulled Tails Wins - award the player with the most tails pulled. Do this by asking the players who pulled the most tails at the end of the game.
  • Least Pulled Tail Wins - ask each player how many times they had their tails pulled. The person whose tail has been pulled the least amount of time ultimately wins the match.
  • Add a soccer ball - add more soccer balls to this game to make it more complicated.

In this drill, make sure that nobody is cheating, counting how which players have had their tails pulled and how many times etc, etc.

7. Run And Dribble

How Does This Drill Work?

This is where the players run through a series of cones, dribbling the ball through the cones before passing it to another teammate, who then repeats the same process.

This is to simply encourage team interaction and communication between players. It will also get the heart rate going and ultimately increase endurance levels.

This simply improves the levels of passing, dribbling and running with the ball. It will improve your player’s overall skill level with the ball.

How to Set This Drill Up

  • Divide the players into groups of around 4 - 5, setting two cones around 15-20 yards away from each other.
  • Add a series of 4 to 6 cones for the players to dribble through. Have the players wait their turn at the starting cone in a straight line, each one with a ball save for the person at the front of the queue.
  • You can set the time limit for how long your players have to complete this challenge. Make sure that the players are nice and warmed up before they start.

Make sure that all your players are warmed up properly before attempting this move. We would recommend that your players go through some dynamic stretches and jogging before trying this drill.

8. Be Someone’s Shadow

How Does This Drill Work?

This drill is very easy and it will be invaluable for you on the pitch. All you have to do is shake another player from off your scent by switching moves and controlling the direction of the ball.

This is a very simple and fun training exercise to do before you hit the harder drills. It will promote team interaction and also ball control skills.

How to Set Up This Drill

  • Depending on the number of players, you need to make sure that you have enough space to play but not so much that your players will be exhausted from running and might be unable to train for longer.
  • Partner the players up, picking one as the shadow and another as the ball handler.
  • Set a time limit for each round, we would recommend having no more than 1-2 minutes.

9. Possession In The Triangle

How Does This Drill Work?

There should be three players within a triangle, one in the middle defending and two on the outside trying to reclaim the ball.

This is a great activity for players to train, getting their heart rate up and limbering up their muscles for a full match.

This will also help the players to develop their split-second thinking, as well as how they will react when backed into a corner.

10. Have A Combination Of Two Lines

How Does This Drill Work?

This is where you have the players form two lines, with alternate passing and dribbling between two lines.

The players then follow their passing until they get to the very end of the opposite line. You can repeat this any number of times with a combination of random patterns and variations.

This will dramatically improve a player’s passing ability. The intensity can be repeated depending on what level the player’s ability is at during the training session.

You have to make sure that the players are divided into groups of 6-8, with each group having a soccer ball.

The time limit for this drill should be no longer than 6-10 minutes.

Make sure this drill starts slowly and builds in intensity, starting with dribbling and ending up with sharp one-touch passing.