The Warm-Up (WU) is an activation or preparatory activity aimed to enhance the physical predisposition before the activity and reduce the injury risks. Therefore, the development of an adequate Warm-Up in soccer is of paramount importance. Although WU is focused on physical contents, the match WU also aims to get a technical and mental readiness of players to compete.
Main objectives for WU:
- Increase the intra-muscular temperature.
- Increase the blood-flow.
- Increase the metabolic reactions (cardiorespiratory system, heart rate).
- Muscle activation.
- Increase the nerve conductance rate.
The WU is indicative of its physiological and physical benefits (1,2).
According to the WU timing in competition, we can differentiate between Pre-Match WU (WU), just before the match starting (Re-WU) and half-time WU (HT-WU).
In this article, I am going to make specific con concise considerations about the most important points considered in the research to help build your own match WU. However, there are not many studies that establish the progression of WU contents, excepting the FIFA prevention programs (3).
What does the research say?
General considerations of WU
- Prolonged WU routine has been shown to be non-beneficial (1).
- Mean time: 30.8 min (15-45’).
- 90% of practitioners recommended a WU of ≤ 25 min.
- The increases in heart rate (HR) and core temperature result in an increase in the blood flow, increase sensitivity of nerve receptors, and may subsequently explain partly the improvement in muscle performance enhancement.
- The research suggests that 5–10 min at 40–70% of VO2max is sufficient to improve short, intermediate and long-term performance (1).
- Short-duration high-intensity (HI) activity is beneficial for WU: enhance explosive muscular performance by increasing central nervous system activity (4).
- However, >23 min HI-WU may induce fatigue: increase thermoregulation and the energy sources depletion.
- Changes of directions (CODs) and plyometrics enhance explosive strength performance.
- The static stretching decreases acute physical performance in soccer players: strength, vertical jump, slalom, dribbling and speed; and also, physiological outcomes (HR, core temperature).
- Dynamic Stretching increases physical performance: jump, sprint, agility, knee extension peak torque, HR, core temperature.
- Post-Activation Potentiation (PAP) increases the jump and sprint performance.
- PAP should be program individualized by player as there is variability in recovery time by player.
- WU using heavy resistance exercises (e.g. 15” of 5RM Squat) can significantly increase repeated-sprint performance and vertical jump (5).
- The eccentric exercises are not recommended because induce muscle damage.
- The FIFA 11+ prevention program shows an increase in jump, sprint and balance performance (3).
- In addition, the FIFA 11+ program reduces the top four most prevalent soccer injuries: hamstring (60%), hip/groin (41%), knee (48%) and ankle (32%) injury.
- The small-sided games (SSG) also improve performance (neuromuscular activation) and can be introduced in the WU.
- The acquisition of specific motor skills can facilitate the transfer of cognitive process in subsequent tasks.
Specific considerations for Re-WU
- Many practitioners recommend an additional WU of 3 min just before start the match, between WU ending and match starting (2).
- A prolonged sedentary period after the WU might negate many of the physiological benefits associated with WU:
- Towlson et al. (2) showed rapid decline in sprinting (5%) and jumping (13%) performance when players had a 10 min passive rest interval after a typical WU.
- The level of play did not moderate the effectiveness of active Re-WU (5).
Specific considerations for HT-WU
- Traditional passive half-time period during soccer match causes temporary impairment in the players’ physical performance capacity.
- In Half time the muscle temperature declines 1.5-2 ºC.
- An active Re-WU reduced the negative impact induced by passive half-time practices both in physiological (HR, core temperature) or performance outcomes (jump, sprint, distance covered).
- 3-min HT-WU elicit significant improvements in sprinting and jumping performance (6).
- The HT-WU elicit performance benefits during the initial stages of the second half.
- HR immediately increases following the HT-WU.
- The most important responses in HT-WU are to increase blood-flow to muscles and muscle temperature increase.
- The HT-WU might enhance the players’ concentration and focus for performance.
- The Whole-body vibration (WBV) techniques might be appropriate as a short-duration, low-intensity and practical dose of WBV is also ergogenic for sprint and power performance and maintained eccentric hamstring peak torque, potentially reducing the risk of injury.
- In addition, it is a good activation manner as it can be done in the dressing room.
- A successful match WU regimen for soccer players should contain either dynamic stretching exercise and PAP (time, reps, RM).
- PAP should be program individualized by player.
- WU should include short periods of HI.
- The FIFA 11+ program elicits gains in strength performance and potential benefits for injuries preventions.
- There are negative effects of passive half time, which may induce to a higher injury risk (7).
- 5RM- or SSGs exercises for WU may increase specific performance of players.
- The WBV might be appropriate for HT-WU and causes acute improvement in reactive strength.
- It is necessary to consider the time demands and situational factors during the half time periods.
- The WU has to be adapted for the playing style.
- The weather (hot or cold) will affect the required WU duration.
This is the structure of Traditional team-sport WU retrieved from the research:
- 6 min general activities
- High-knees, butt-kicks and body-weight squats; performed at medium intensity (sub-maximal velocity).
- 9 min specific movements
- Back and forth sprinting, lateral skipping and CODs; performed at high intensity (maximal velocity).
- 6 min ball-control activities
- Dribbling, passing and run-throughs; performed at high intensity.
- Recovery: 1×60 sec and 2×30 sec passive recovery periods interspersed within the routine.
However, this is a basic and not very precise WU. The research has not still established a practice guideless showing an adequate timing progression of different qualities and develop an adequate warm-up in soccer. On the other hand, it is logically understood that all players have individualized needs and requirements (e.g. for previous injuries).
The WU programs should include the next contents (personal opinion):
- General mobility (dynamic stretching, basic movements)
- Specific movements
- Coordination and SAQ
- Technical skills
- Specific HI activity (SSG)
- Punctual tactical aspects
- Accelerations and short speed
The development of an adequate Warm-Up in soccer is of paramount importance for both improve the players’ performance and reduce the injury risk. Therefore, it is important to pay special attention in this content.
You can find below is a detailed WU which has been used in the past. It is important to know the team’s playing style or the individual characteristics, among others.
You need to be subscribed to this website to download the Warm-Up.
- Zois J, Bishop DJ, Ball K, Aughey RJ. High-intensity warm-ups elicit superior performance to a current soccer warm-up routine. J Sci Med Sport. 2011; 14(6): 522–8.
- Towlson C, Midgley AW, Lovell R. Warm-up strategies of professional soccer players: practitioners’ perspectives. J Sports Sci. 2013; 31(13): 1393–401.
- Thorborg K, Krommes KK, Esteve E, Clausen MB, Bartels EM, Rathleff MS. Effect of specific exercise-based football injury prevention programmes on the overall injury rate in football: A systematic review and meta-analysis of the FIFA 11 and 11+ programmes. Br J Sports Med. 2017; 51(7): 562–71.
- Abade E, Sampaio J, Gonçalves B, Baptista J, Alves A, Viana J. Effects of different re-warm up activities in football players’ performance. Ardigò LP, editor. PLoS One. 2017; 12(6): e0180152.
- Hammami A, Zois J, Slimani M, Russel M, Bouhlel E. The efficacy and characteristics of warm-up and re-warm-up practices in soccer players: A systematic review. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2018; 58(1–2): 135–49.
- Fashioni E, Langley B, Page RM. The effectiveness of a practical half-time re-warm-up strategy on performance and the physical response to soccer-specific activity. J Sports Sci. 2020; 38(2): 140–9.
- Lovell R, Midgley A, Barrett S, Carter D, Small K. Effects of different half-time strategies on second half soccer-specific speed, power and dynamic strength. Scand J Med Sci Sport. 2013; 23(1): 105–13.
S&C Coach | Rehab Therapist | Sport Scientist
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This article has been made based on the references showed, other studies reviewed but not showed and according to the experience and knowledge of the author. In this way, it may include subjective ideas and opinions not contrasted in the research.
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