Designing a warm-up for a large team looks easy if you're watching passively from the sidelines. Unfortunately, this ease is quite deceptive. There are actually several critical aspects that need to be taken into account if you want you're warm-up to go from adequate to Fine Art status:1. Time: how much do you have? I usually try to end a minute or two before I told the coach I would be done (think under-promise and over-deliver, coaches LOVVVVVE that!). 2. Efficiency: you never have much of #1 and you may have as many as 30+ players. So, how do you keep them all moving, engaged, and organized? You gotta be efficient! 3. Effectiveness: Numbers 1 & 2 are components of this, but effectiveness speaks to the QUALITY of what you’re doing. Are you getting the most “bang for your buck” per movement? If not, go back to the drawing board. Be sure to take into account the 3 planes of motion, what the team’s first drill of practice will be, and general fatigue level (where are they within the season and within the training week?).
Beginning this past Saturday, I’ve been standing on a soccer field for about 5 hours a day working hard on the start of, what is certain to be, a legendary sock/farmer’s tan combo. Regardless, that’s just a fantastic by-product of my point: We just started the preseason training time period for women’s soccer and I’ve put together several warm-ups I think are pretty darn good. I’m going to share the two I used on Monday, August 8th and point out a couple important things about the two of them:
AM Session (the 5th practice within 48 hours):
Team Jogs 1 Field Lap in two lines
Upon return have two lines split apart on the 18
(one line on end-line other line on 18, lines face)
65% Builder Sprint to Back Pedal (long reach)
• Walking Spiderman to Overhead Reach
• Yoga Pushup x5
• Skip backwards with Heel Lift
70% Builder Sprint to Gate Openers
• Knee Hugs
• Cross-behind Overhead Reverse Lunge x5/side
• Frankenstein Kicks
75% Builder Sprint to Walking Opposites
• Walking Quads
• Bowler Squat x5/leg
• Skip for Distance
80% Builder Sprint to Alternating Side Shuffle
• Walking Toe Touch
• Split-Stance Kneeling Adductor Rockbacks x5/side
• Cradle Walk
Lateral Broad Jump x3 to Turn & Sprint (both directions)
Stretch on Own
• This practice was the tipping point for the team. At the time it started, it was the 5th practice they would be attending within 48 hours – that’s a lot of soccer in a short window!
• The previous two days had a portion of testing (think non-contact) that was significant enough that I knew they would still be feeling pretty good for this session.
• My warm-up “template” typically consists of 3 levels of warm-ups. One is fairly intense and is for pre-match or other situations when the group is fresh, the second is a mid-level warm-up that respects the training volume the team is currently enduring (or the point in the season), and the third is a very low-level warm-up that is appropriate for recovery and respects the teams general level of fatigue but still preps them for the drills to follow.
• The AM Session warm-up was a Level 2.
PM Session (the 6th practice within 54 hours):
Team Jogs 1 Field Lap in two lines
Upon return everyone grabs ball and circles up
Soccer Ball SMR :20-:30/location:
Squat Mobility Series x1
Team Lines up on Sideline:
2 Tuck Jumps to 65% Builder Sprint to Gateopeners
2 Tuck Jumps to 70% Builder Sprint to Frankensteins
2 Tuck Jumps to 75% Builder Sprint to Skip for Height
2 Tuck Jumps to 80% Builder Sprint to Alternating Side Shuffle
Stretch on Own
• After a morning training session that lasted a full two-hours and was jam-packed with intense sprinting and full contact, I knew the team would be starting to get very sore and tired.
• I gave them as much time as I could (in this case only 8-minutes) to do some self-massage with the soccer ball and a mobility circuit before we started moving around to get the heart pumping.
• The PM Session warm-up was a Level 3.
Orchastrating an excellent warm-up day after day is certainly one of the less "sexy" aspects to the job of Strength & Conditioning Coach, but it is nonetheless extremely important. Keep in mind a solid dynamic warm-up on a regular basis is the opportunity to improve general fitness and work on power, strength, speed, change of direction, mobility, flexibility, and injury prevention... I think anyone would agree that's a great opportunity to have on a daily basis, so don't waste it by not planning properly!
As a side note, if you train with us in Fairfax, you may soon get to experience warm-ups similar to the AM session - did you hear we got TURF last week?!? If you don't already train with us and wish to experience the excellence that is SAPT, please contact us here for information on in-house performance coaching, distance coaching, Buttkamp, or any combination of the three!