By Mike Saif
Question – How do you warm up for a training session? Does it change depending on what the training session topic is?
One of the most important things for me with training sessions is to get them active right away. Although I would set up different warm-ups sometimes depending on the topic of the session, most of my warm-ups were small-sided possession games. I did these for a number of reasons.
• They were designed so that all players were moving and active
• No matter the topic of the session, playing soccer always includes passing and possession
• It was a great way to make the warm up competitive and fun
My favorite warm-up was to simply divide the players into two teams with 1 or more neutral players. So it could be 7v7+2, 6v6+3, 8v8+2, etc. This made it really easy regardless of how many players were at practice that night.
I would make the space nice and big which would make it easier to be successful stringing passes and so that the players had more space to cover and run in. Depending on the number of players, it could be a half of a field or from the half line to the penalty area, etc. I would also stipulate that once you had made a pass, you had to run into a different area of the field to make sure players didn’t stay in the same spot all the time.
Making the warm-up competitive ensured a good effort and also made it fun. I would set targets like, 10 consecutive passes or 6 consecutive one-touch passes to get a point. I would sometimes limit players to two-touch or even one-touch with three neutral players. The losing team would have to give the winning team a piggy back ride or have to pick up the cones and balls at the end of practice, etc.
Another active possession warm-up is to play 5v5v5 in the same area with the same rules as above. This time the players would be split into three teams, each with a different color bib. Two teams would combine to keep the ball away from the other team. When the defending team won possession of the ball, the team that was responsible for losing possession, would now become the defending team. In the diagram below, the dark team and white team are combining to keep the ball away from the red team.
Give these a try and experiment with others, but making sure your players are active and having fun, is always a good start to a training session.
By Mike Saif
Founder and President of WORLD CLASS COACHING, Mike has coached 12 State Championship teams and coached the 87G Dynamos to a USYS National Championship.