Should Soccer Players Warm Up & Cool Down for Practices?
Soccer players of all ages should warm up before EVERY soccer event and cool down after EVERY soccer event.
The number one reason revolves around reducing the likelihood of a soccer related injury. Although warming up is often overlooked by coaches of younger players, a good warm up and cool down should become part of a teams routine.
Basically when a player warms up, it does two things. Helps players avoid injury as well as improving the players performance. We call it warming up because it actually increases temperature of the player’s muscles. It also increases the flow of oxygen to muscles, speeds nerve impulses and helps increase range of motion.
Good warm ups typically consists of light jogs, stretching, along with light soccer related warm up such as light dribbling, skill work, or passing at short distances. Each warm up should be between 15 and 30 minutes depending on age group and level of play and should be followed almost immediately with more intense practice drills.
The benefits of a good cool down after training also revolves around reducing injury and boosting performance. The cool down does this by gradually lowering the heart rate, helping oxygen levels in the muscles return to the condition they were in before the practice began, while removing waste such as lactic acid. A good cool down also helps reduce muscle soreness after an intense training session.
A good cool down typically consists of a light jog followed by light stretching.
So to answer the question posed earlier "Should Soccer Players Warm up & Cool Down for Practices?" is a definite yes. There are great benefits to getting your team into a good routine while warming up as well as cooling down before and after training sessions. I recommend introducing a good warm up and cool down with under 6 players to build the routine now so they don't think twice about a good warm up or cool down when they get older.
Warm up Drill
The Pirate Game - Curse of the Pugg Net
This drill is a good drill that can be used to focus on many aspects of the game. For younger players ages 8-11, the primary focus should be on good dribbling technique in traffic which requires vision and awareness. The coach can also focus on transition from offense to defense if the ball is lost, or recovering from a tackle and finding safety. Defensively, this allows defenders to steal the ball from attackers and play to a particular goal or target.
This is for ages U6, U8, U10, U12, U14, U16. It is best ran with at least 8 players but no more than 20 players. The drill should be ran approximately 20 minutes on a 1/2 field. The coach will also make sure they have the following equipment: cones, goals, alternate jersey, .
Build a circle approximately the size of the center circle with a Pugg net in the middle of the circle. The actual size of the circle will vary depending on the age and skill level of the players. With all players in the playing area, dedicate 9 players with the ball, and 3 players without a ball will be the "Pirates".
Instruct the "Pirates" without the ball to defend the players with the balls. Once the Pirate wins the ball, they attempt to score on the Pugg net in the middle of the circle. If the Pirate scores the goal, that player too becomes a Pirate. Play continues until the last player with the ball wins. If the pirates have a hard time getting started, the coach can help the pirates at first.
Attacking: keep the ball close with head up so the players are aware of defenders and safety areas (space). If the ball is lost, recover quickly and fight to win it back.
Defending: Transition quickly from defense to offensive and stay focused once the ball is won, and find the target.
Technical Dribbling, Tactical Defending, Tactical Attacking, Tactical Support, Tactical Possession, Tactical Transition, Tactical Vision
Warm up drill
Red Light, Green Light
For U6 and U8 Players. This drill will focus on dribbling with the ball close in order to stop quickly.
This is for ages U6, U8. It is best run with at least 4 players but no more than 10 players. The drill should be run approximately 15 minutes on a small field. The coach will also make sure they have the following equipment: cones,
Create a starting line for each of the players, and the coach should move 15-20 yards away.
With the coaches back to the players, he yells GREEN LIGHT and the players try to dribble to the coach. When the coach yells RED LIGHT, he waits a moment and then turns to face the players. Anyone who is not stopped has to go back to the farthest person from the coach.
* Have the players dribble with only the right or left foot.
* Make sure the players keep the ball close so they can stop quickly.