Do substitutes in soccer do warm-ups? (detailed explanation)

Before a soccer game begins, it is important for soccer players to do a warm-up. Among other things, this ensures that the muscles and joints become warm and flexible. But what about substitutes of a team, do they do a warm-up?

Just like the soccer players in the starting lineup, the substitutes also do a warm-up. They should be as prepared as the eleven players on the field. A substitute player may soon have to substitute for a field player because he gets injured. 

When you read on, we will discuss this topic in more detail. However, this blog covers even more. For example, we explain whether substitutes do a different warm-up than the players in the starting lineup, whether they do a warm-up at halftime and more.

Do substitute players do warm-ups?

As you have already read in the intro, substitute players do a warm-up just like the players in the starting lineup. 

There are a number of reasons why substitutes do a warm-up:

So that the muscles and joints become warm and flexible
Just like the players who are on the field, it is important for substitutes to do a warm-up. For them, it is also important for the muscles and joints to become warm and flexible. This reduces the risk of injury and allows them to perform better. 

Learn more about why players do a warm-up in our blog Why do soccer players do a warm-up?

Because they must always be ready to participate in the match
If a player knows that he is not selected for the starting lineup he will always still do a warm-up. During the match a fellow player in his position can get injured. If he has to fill in, he should be able to give 100% immediately. Therefore, it is important if his muscles and joints are already warm and flexible.

In some cases it even happens that a player gets injured during the warm-up. As a result, a substitute player has to take over the place of the player who was initially supposed to be selected.

Because they don't know whether or not they should play
It varies from coach to coach when he announces the starting lineup. Some coaches choose to do this only after the warm-up. In this case, it is important that each player does a proper warm-up.

A player cannot risk not doing a warm-up because he is not sure if he will play or not.

To help the other players
A warm-up is not only done to get the muscles and joints warm and flexible.

Among other things, a warm-up also includes exercises with the ball. In this case, it is useful for substitute players to join the warm-up.

For example, the substitute goalkeepers shoot balls at the first goalkeeper and substitute players play the ball around with players from the starting lineup.

Do substitute players do a separate warm-up?

Substitute players participate in all five phases of the warm-up. It varies by club or coach whether substitutes do a separate warm-up. 

If so, often only a small part of the warm-up is done separately. The players who are selected sometimes do a separate part of the warm-up together.

This is done so that the players who are selected can get a better feeling with each other. They can pass the ball around to each other and get focused together before the match.

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Do substitutes do a warm-up during halftime?

When you go to a soccer game or watch it on TV you may see substitutes doing a warm-up at halftime. Perhaps you play soccer yourself and have sometimes done a warm-up at halftime. So yes substitute players do a warm-up during halftime. 

However, it is not the case that all substitutes do this. This is only done when substitute players receive a signal from the coach that they will play in the second half. In this case, the player in question is sent onto the field at the beginning of the second half. It sometimes happens that the player is not brought in until several minutes into the second half. In this case, they also do a warm-up at halftime.

Why do substitutes do a warm-up on the sidelines?

A substitute player brought into the field later does the warm-up on the sideline. The reason for this is very simple; for there is no other place where they can do warm-up. 

There is no room for this on the field because this is where the game is played. It varies per stadium or club on which sideline the warm-up by substitutes is held. 

However, it is usually held on the long side of where the substitutes, coach and the rest of the staff sit. In some cases it is also done on the short side. In this case just around the corner from the long side where the substitutes, coach and staff sit.

Substitute players are required to wear a vest. This is often in the color orange, yellow or light blue. This makes it immediately clear that these players are not participating in the game. It is important for a referee to be able to see this clearly.

Is a warm-up on the sidelines different from a warm-up before the game?
The warm-up done on the sidelines is quite different from one done before a game. 

Because the substitutes have less room to move, they cannot do everything they can do in a normal warm-up. 

For example, they cannot do exercises with the ball. Standing with a few players in a circle and doing a rondo is not possible because there is no room for this. 

How many players are allowed to do a warm-up at the same time is not known. Since there are no entries on the IFAB website about it we assume that there is no limit. However, a coach will never allow all players on the bench to do a warm-up.


You now know that substitute players do a warm-up just like the players who are selected to play. Just like for the starting players, it is important for the substitute players to warm up and make their muscles and joints flexible. 

The warm-up they do is often exactly the same as the warm-up the players who are selected do. In some cases, the players who are selected to play spend a small part of the warm-up with each other for more focus before the game.

Curious to learn more about warm-ups? Then click here for a list of all our blogs on this topic.

March 1, 2023
Published: March 1, 2023