OK, I have written 5 Tips for a new coach about to carry out the first soccer practice. I know that it is a daunting task running a soccer practice for the first time, I ran my first practice 26 years ago!
Tip #1 concerned equipment and also covered a couple of ways of taking control of the practice as well as setting the tone of the practice.
Here is Tip #2 WARM UP
The Warm Up is a very important part of the practice. Obviously for all physical activity it is important to warm up correctly. I am not going to go into all the physiology, biomechanics and other technical aspects of a correct warm up, instead I am going to “Soccerize” a basic warm up for you.
Here we go.
Firstly, recognize that at the youth soccer level players are primarily playing soccer for fun and also to socialize.
So, bearing that in mind, when the players arrive, I say hello to them, make sure they are OK and then I keep away from them.
I give them time and space to put on their socks and shinguards and their cleats, have a drink and I allow them to chat with their friends and hang out. As soon as they are ready I ask them to juggle with their ball until everybody is ready to start the practice.
Now this next part can come across as a little old fashinoned, but once I have called them all in, welcomed them and let them know what we are going to do at practice, I then have them line up in twos, each player with a ball and I have them run a couple of laps while dribbling their ball.
I do this because it gives them some aerobic activity, has them touching the ball and mentally it signifies to them that by the time they have reported back to me after their couple of laps, practice has now begun and the work has to be done.
While they are running their laps, I spend the time to set up the next part of the practice. I also take a look at them as they are running to see if there is anything I should be concerned about.
Once they have completed their laps, they dribble their balls in to me and immediately I have to start the next phase of the warm up.
This is the time that we would have the players stretch accordingly.
What I like to do is have the ball part of each stretch. Get creative with this, but don’t have them kick their balls to the side while they stretch, have them use their ball or at least have them focus on it while they stretch.
Next, my focus is to step up their aerobic activity and to also have them touch the ball as many times as possible with both feet as well as different parts of the body.I mark off a suitable sized grid, or we use part of the penalty area or we use the center circle, whichever is available and appropriate.
Now, as you advance as a coach and work on more advanced topics, it is important that this part of the warm up ties in with the theme of your practice.
For more beginner kind of practices and/or younger players, simple games such as “Red Light/Green Light” will suffice.
The basic premise is that you spend 5-10 minutes working with the players in a small area, with lots of tempo and lots of touches on the ball.
AVOID LINES AND AVOID HAVING THEM DO DRILLS THAT INVOLVE STANDING AROUND A LOT.
Instead, “Keep them busy.” This will help them up their tempo, give them lots of touches on the ball and it will also keep them interested and focussed so that they don’t get bored and maybe drift off mentally.
At the end of the warm up, let them have a water break then quickly get into the “meat” of your practice.
So, In Summary, here are the components of the Warm Up:
1. Socialise and juggle with the ball while they get ready and all the players arrive
2. Have the team run a couple of laps while dribbling with their ball
3. Suitable and appropriate stretches.
4. Lots of touches, keep them busy and up the tempo so that they get a good aerobic workout while working with their ball.
So, there you have it, that’s Tip # 2 the Warm UP completed.