A proper dynamic warm-up is an important step to prepare an athlete’s body to perform at maximum intensity during a workout, training session, and competition. In the past, a traditional warm-up routine involved a light jog followed by extensive static stretching. Studies have shown that too much static stretching lengthens muscles and nerves, which in turn decreases athletic performance for up to two hours. Unlike this “sit and stretch” method, an active dynamic warm-up increases body and core temperature, increases blood flow to muscles, focuses the athlete’s mind on the task ahead, and enhances coordination and motor ability. Thus, an effective dynamic warm-up should incorporate sport-specific movements and cause athletes to break a sweat in order to optimize athletic performance.
Before beginning any serious practice or competition, soccer players should always warm up the specific muscles that contribute most during the game. This includes all the muscles in the hips, legs, and core that generate drive, agility, and speed. An effective soccer stretching session will increase blood flow to these areas and lengthen the muscle fibers in order to maximize a player’s range of motion. Here is a list of pre-workout exercises for teams to implement in their routine to get their athletes ready to perform at their peak.
Agility drills improve athlete balance, body control, foot speed, and coordination. Going through a warm-up that incorporates soccer-specific movements ensures that athletes are ready to go when the whistle blows.
3-Hurdle Drill Pause
This group of exercises works to increase flexibility and mobility for soccer players before a training session or match.
Partner Hip Swings
Standing Egg Beater
Reverse Lunge Overhead Stretch
A strong core is vital for athletic stability and enables players to transition power from lower body to their upper body and leg swing. Here is a valuable exercise players can do to warm-up and activate their core.
These moves can be paired with many other dynamic stretching exercises and movements that will prevent injury, increase performance, and maximize a soccer player’s range of motion. Keep the warmup as dynamic as possible and build in some short sprints or active movements as well. The goal is to warm up the body's core temperature and muscles without fatiguing them. Even though warm-ups are often overlooked, the pre-workout exercises are key determinants of an athlete’s performance. After the game or training session, soccer players should always perform a proper cool down in order to help the athlete’s body recover quickly and effectively. Low intensity aerobics and relaxed stretching are good for returning the athlete's muscles to their original length and their pulse to a steady resting heart rate. Here’s a deeper look at why properly warming up and cooling down are crucial for improving athletic performance.