In this article I will show you some football warm up drills to get you ready for action, both physically and mentally.

The warm up in football has become common place for all footballers before they go out to practice or before the start of a game, but why do they actually need it?

Would there be any difference if they just got on with the ball work at a training session or went straight from the dressing room into the game. Would their performance really be any worse without it?

The answer is yes it is vital for two main reasons:

1: It focuses the brain. Your concentration levels will be sharp

2: It gets the blood pumping through the body, allowing oxygen to release to the muscles, so that injurys are prevented.

soccer warm up



It’s not all about gentle jogging!

If it was a waste of time, then all teams would just skip and do some ball work. They need it to prepare the body for more vigorous exercise that lays ahead.


A warm up should be approximately 30 minutes before any match and last 10 to 15 minutes.

It should be at the start of any training or practice session, hence the main warm up.

This is one of the secrets to a better warm up, sure you need gentle jogging to get the body moving, but the warm up also needs to be mixed with more faster, quicker movements.

Things need to start slow, let the body get ready for exercise that is to come, then continue to build up and then when you are in the groove, bang faster more speed and then let it drift back down to a more steadier pace. If you think about it football is full of fast short sprints so that is what you want to incorporate into the warm up. The key is to keep it fun and not to burn yourself out, but be ready for what is to come.


You only need a circle and some cones!

Drill 1 – the circle warm up with cones (for the whole team)

Let me show you some drills to try. They will sharpen up your movements and do those two most vital of things, get the mind focused and ready to play or train and get the blood pumping though the body.

How to set it up:

  • place at least 25 cones in a circle.
  • the cones are places about 1 mter apart.
  • in the centre of th circle is a flag pole.

How the exercise works:

Each player stands on a cone. They all start jogging in the same direction around the circle moving in and out of the cones.

When they have been around the circle once, the coach will blow his whistle and all the players need to be ready to run in at half pace and touch the pole in the middle then run out at half pace back to the cones and carry on with the in out movements. Do this two or three times.

Now running in the same direction on the outside of the cones, instead of in and out movements, whenever the player gets to a cone they lift their leg over it. Again start running around the circle to the right. Always wait for the coach to blow the whistle before you move in towards the pole.

Do this once then step inside the cones and run in the same direction but use the other leg to step over the cones. When the whistle blows, this time you run outside the circle away from the pole for 5 metres then jog back into the circle and carry on from where you were. Do this two times or more.

Bunny hops: this time use the middle of the cone and hop over from one to the next. Keep going until the whistle blows and then sprint away from the pole starting back and keep going.

Trunk twist: stop running with each player on a cone, they now need to walk forward towards the middle pole and do some trunk twists. These are when you lift your leg up to knee high and twist it outwards towards the hip on the outside of your body. Start walking forwards first the left leg then the right until you reach the middle of the pole then sprint backwards towards the pole.

Full pace: now go back to in out like you started with and it wants to be done at full pace for one minute.

Back kicks: moving on to back kicks which are simply the player standing next to their cone and bending forward and kicking leg out behind themslves. Do this for 20 to 30 seconds.

Sprinting into out: finish the warm up with Sprinting in to out. Working from inside the circle zig zagging inside to out on the cones at a fast pace, when the whistle blows, sprint away from the circle until the whistle blows again, then sprint back into position and carry on do this twice.

This whole warm up should take six to eight minutes.


The square warm up with balls!

Drill 2  – the square set up with cones at each corner

How to set it up:

  • Requires 4 cones in a square about 10 metres apart.(8 players requires two square, 12 players requires 3 squares)
  • two balls for each square
  • two players stand on each cone.
  • this is done to start with running at half pace.

How the exercise works:

First player 1 runs with the ball towards player 2 who then takes the ball and runs it to where player 3 was standing

Setting off at the same time as player 1, player 3 sets off running with the ball to player 4 who takes the ball from player 3 on to where player 1 was standing.

Once a player has ran with the ball and passed it on, the second player must step up straight away and be ready for their turn.

Keep going until all the players have been around the square at least twice.

Now go around the square with the same actions but this time it’s sprinting with the ball.

Always start and stop on the blow of the whistle.


Catch your player if you can!

Drill 3: chasing the player opposite you down

How to set it up:

  • Set up with straight line of 6 cones
  • 20 metres apart
  • one set of cones on the half way line
  •  the other row of cones half way between the halfway line and the goal area.
  • In the middle of this area have two more lines of six cones about one metre apart

How the exercise works:

Split the players into two lines of six then give them different bibs to wear, eg. one line of six wearing red, one wearing blue.

The coach calls out the colour and the players with the other colour turn and chase their player to tag them.

The aim is to reach your cone without getting caught.

Do this a few times, this is a sprint. The aim is to get the players to make an instant decision and move.

The key is to make them aware that the first two or three metres is the most important movement.

In a match situation this could be the quick movent that wins you the ball back or creates a chance or goal for your team.

If you don’t go all in you are fooling yourself!

If you want to be the best player you can be, then from the moment it is time to practice or play, you need to give your all.

I am afraid this includes the warm up for those that want to be lazy.

If I put it this way you might change your mind about the warm up. It is the first minute of the game and let’s say you need to sprint 20 metres to chase the ball down. Your mind says go but your body says I’m not ready.

What do you think will most likely be the outcome? A pulled muscle or some other unwanted injury. I guess if this happens you will probably be saying to yourself if only I had done the warm up with more intensity.

No one can force you to do it right, its a matter of self pride and wanting to play and train your best.

The only person you will be fooling is yourself if you have a slack attitude and do this.

Try to use a more positive approach and mindset towards the warm up and see how your coach and team manager take notice.

football warm ups

The warm up is your starting point!

Next time you step out onto the field of play or to practice remember ever session or match has to start somewhere and this is called the football warm up.

Use it to your advantage and get your body and mind ready for the strenuous exercise that is infront of you. Let it start to focus your brain and get the inside of your body warmed up.

Don’t let your team mate or opponent be more ready than you are. Start as you mean to carry on and be the best version of yourself you can be.

Good luck in the warm up.

I look forward to your comments on this topic. Please leave them below in the comments section.


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Son · 07/05/2019 at 9:17 am

Hello Matthew,

I am thankful I found your post about these 3 football warmup drills. I’m a middle school football coach and was considering using these drills for my team. After reading your post I think I’ll use these drills to get my kids all excited about the game. I am interested in bookmarking your site to see other tips that you’d have to offer.

take care


    Matthew Hofman · 07/05/2019 at 12:53 pm

    Hi son. Feel free to bookmark this page. More skills and drills on the way soon. 

    I am thrilled you liked this article. 

    Make sure you keep using the warm up in your coaching, your players will feel the benifet of this. 

    Take care 

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