Exercises Youth Soccer Players Should Do Before Practice

6 Exercises Youth Soccer Players Should Do Before Practice

Soccer Players – An effective dynamic warm up will mimic the activities needed to be performed. In soccer, because of the variety of movement patterns that are performed in a multitude of directions, the warm up should mimic these types of movements. The warm up should also focus on the entire body, because of the requirement of the entire body to participate in the sport. 

The F-MARC 11+, developed by FIFA’s research center, is a comprehensive warm up program that has been shown to reduce injury risk in the lower extremity in female youth soccer players. It requires only a soccer ball, and can be completed in 10-15 minutes. It is free to download online, or can be done under the guidance of a CD. Visit a blog 

A dynamic warmup should consist of running, dynamic stretches of the major muscle groups, and soccer players specific muscle drills. Soccer requires endurance but the ability to sprint, as well as agility and power. The demands of the sport are variable at certain times, so the athlete needs to be able to perform all of these and should be prepared to do so. More insights and warm-up guide by Competitor Spot website.

Straight Leg March “Tin Man” 

How To: 

– Start standing facing forward, both legs hip width apart. 

– Swing one leg forward until a slight stretch is felt in the hamstrings (back of the upper leg). Try to touch that foot with your opposite hand. 

–  As soon as the stretch is felt, pull the leg back down to the ground, and contract the glutes (your bottom). 

– Repeat on the next side. You can keep walking throughout this stretch. 

Things to avoid:

Try not to round the back while performing this exercise. Keep posture as aligned as possible. 

Targeted Muscles:

Improves flexibility in the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. 


10 repetitions each leg

Spider-Man Walks

How To: 

– Take a lung step forward. Try to make this motion bigger than a normal lunge. This involves placing the front foot in front of you, keeping the back leg extended behind you. Your front leg should be bent. 

– Place both hands to the inside of your front foot – this should be next to your front foot and not in front. 

– Keep the back straight, and pull the hips to the ground. 

– Then switch legs in place, or place the opposite leg forward to move forward. 

Targeted Muscles of Soccer Players:

Mobilizes the hips, ankles, and thoracic spine 

Things to Remember:

Breathe in this position


1 set over 20 meters

Jog Forward and Circle Arms Forwards/Backward

How To: 

– Begin with a light jog

– Either alternating arms or together keep the arms straight and start to bring the arms forward in a circle. 

– Once completing one rep, circle the arms backwards. 


Try to keep the arm circles controlled. Uncontrolled arms will place stress on the shoulders. 

Target Muscles:

Shoulders while also jogging to warm up the body for the slow demands of soccer. 


20yds with forward arm circles, 20yds with backwards arm circles. 2 times. 

Backdrop Ground Touches of Soccer players

How To: 

– Begin facing forwards with feet shoulder width apart. 

– At a 45 degree angle, begin to shuffle low to the ground, backwards. 

– Shuffle 5 times, then switch directions, continuing to shuffle backwards. 


– Try to stay low, in a high squat position. 

– Try to do this quickly to practice moving and changing directions, but also in a controlled manner. 

Target muscles: 

Quads, and agility of the lower extremities. 


20 yds, alternating sides … 3 times. 


How To: 

– Start with feet further than shoulder width apart. 

– Slightly squat

– Push off with the L foot and bring it towards the R foot. 

– Cross the L foot behind the R foot and plant it on the ground. 

– Move the R foot to the side so you return to the original position. 

– Cross the L foot in front of the R foot and plant it on the ground. 

– Move the R foot to the side so you return to the same position. 

– Reverse the steps to perform the drill in the other direction. 

Target Muscles: 

– Hips, groin, lower back

– This is also more of an agility exercise, that mimics the quick feet demands needed of soccer players but also working in a lateral direction since soccer players are required to move in multiple directions. 

Target Movement: 

Moving in a lateral direction. 


Start Slow to get the pattern down, then increase the speed. 


3 sets over 20m on each side 

Run-Through Sprints of Soccer Players

End with run-through sprints 

How To: 

– This involves the acceleration to build up to the sprint, and also involves a deceleration. 

– The sprinter will have a measured distance, and will plan to “run through” the end meaning the player doesn’t start to slow down until they cross the line. 

– The player can also determine the speed, and should estimate about the maximum pace and then the percentage that they are working. 

Target Movement of Soccer Players: 

This gets the player ready for the sprinting and power phase of soccer. Because the game involves quick transitions from walking/jogging to sprinting, practicing that quick acceleration and deceleration is important. 


– 2 sets x 20 m at 70% of maximum pace

– 2 sets x 20 m at 80% of maximum pace

– 1 set x 20 m at 90% of maximum pace

The above is a mix of exercises that can help the athlete in a total body warm up mimicking the different movements required of them in soccer. 

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Are you ready to perform at your optimal level? Contact Doctor of Physical Therapy, Mary Kate Casey at our Chicago, IL clinic today! Through our movement analysis, we can assess jumping and landing mechanics and help you improve performance and reduce your risk of injury. Give PREP Performance Center a call at 773-609-1847 for more information on our movement analysis program!

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