What is a good warm-up for soccer players? (full explanation)?

Just like any other sport, a warm-up is done in soccer before the game. You can read why soccer players do a warm-up here. In this blog we are going to talk about what a good warm-up looks like.

What does a good warm-up look like for soccer players?
A good warm-up involves movement, stretching and agility exercises. These ensure that muscles and joints become warm and flexible. There are also exercises with the ball as well as speed and reflex exercises. This provides more focus, concentration and feeling with the ball.

As you read on we will go deeper into this subject. We will explain the different parts of a warm-up, how long a warm-up takes, how important it is to do a warm-up and more.

Different parts of a warm-up

A good warm-up consists of five different parts. These are the following:

  • Movement exercises
  • Stretching exercises 
  • Agility exercises
  • Ball exercises
  • Speed and reflex exercises

During a proper warm-up, a soccer player makes sure he has completed all of these parts. Below, we will explain more about what each part entails, what exercises it may contain and what it is good for.

Movement exercises

A warm-up always begins with movement exercises. This is the basis of a warm-up and should not be skipped. In addition, it is important to start with these exercises before finishing the other parts.

Doing movement exercises warms up the muscles and joints and makes them more flexible. This is important because it ensures that a soccer player is less likely to be injured and can perform better during the game.

Often there are some standard movement exercises that are done. Doing these ensures that all muscles are warmed up.

Below are some movement exercises that are (almost always) done during a warm-up:

  • Normal jogging
  • Sideways jogging
  • Jogging and turning hips outward*
  • Jogging and turning hips inward*
  • Lift knees while jogging*
  • Scissor motion with legs while jogging
  • Heels to buttocks while jogging*
  • Jogging with rotation of left arm, rotation of right arm and both arms at the same time*
  • Jogging backwards

* Are also part of dynamic stretching (you can read more about this later in this blog)

As you can see, these are exercises where you are jogging all the time. There are also other movement exercises that are done. Examples include jumping jacks and knee bends (squats).

Many times these exercises are done as a team. However, some players may not participate in them. You can read exactly what that is like later in this blog.

Stretching exercises

Once the muscles are warmed up, the second part follows namely the stretching exercises. 

Stretching exercises are important because they ensure that muscles remain flexible, strong and healthy. It also makes it easier to move your joints. 

When you don't stretch the muscles properly, the muscles shorten and there is more tension on them. This can cause you to move less well and a muscle to strain or tear more easily. 

For example, when a soccer player stretches his muscles properly, he can sprint easier, outplay a man better, jump higher for a head duel or extend the leg further for a slide. 

There are two different ways in which stretching can be done. In this case, we are talking about static stretching and dynamic stretching. In static stretching, the soccer player stands still; in dynamic stretching, the soccer player stays in motion (walking or jogging).

Static stretching exercises commonly done by soccer players:

  • Standing hip flexor stretch
  • Calf stretch inverted
  • Seated abductor stretch
  • Reclining quad stretch
  • Abdominal stretches
  • Standing hamstring stretch
  • Standing quad stretch
  • Supine glute stretch with one leg
  • Lying hamstring stretch with one leg

Dynamic stretching exercises commonly done by soccer players:

  • Short kick over the knee
  • Running hip stretches
  • Jogging and turning hips outward*
  • Jogging and turning hips inward*
  • Knee lifts while jogging*
  • Heels to buttocks while jogging*
  • Jogging with rotation of left arm, rotation of right arm and both arms at the same time*

* Are also part of movement exercises

It is important to always do movement exercises first. Muscles that are cold can be damaged if you do static stretches

Wondering about more good stretches and more explanations about them? Then read our blog 15 good stretch exercises every soccer player should do.

Agility exercises

Especially in professional soccer, a warm-up includes agility exercises. 

Agility exercises are important because they warm up and activate specific muscle groups and joints. 

Many movements made during agility exercises are also used during a match. This is why it is extra good to pay attention to them.

The agility exercises done by soccer players as part of the warm-up are:

  • Shuttlerun training
  • Tuck jumps
  • Slalom (both with and without a ball)
  • Ladder training
  • Box drills
  • Running hurdles

Doing one or more of these exercises mimics certain competitive situations. Below are some examples:

Shuttlerun training
In shuttle run workouts, there are four or more pawns in a row. Each pawn is several meters apart.

The player must sprint from the first pawn to the second pawn. When he reaches the second pawn, he must return to the first. Then he must run to the third pawn and then back to the first. This continues until he has been to all the pawns. 

This practices short sprints and fast turns. Short sprints occur constantly during a game as does the need to turn around quickly. For example, when the opponent suddenly intercepts the ball and starts an attack.

Tuck jumps
With tuck jumps, the idea is to jump into the air from a squat position. As you jump into the air pull your knees toward your chest. After you land on the ground you return to the squat position and repeat.

This exercise warms up and activates your muscles that are important for jumping. This is important if you have to engage in a head duel.

Slalom (both with and without ball)
In slalom, a number of pawns (or posts) are placed one after the other. Usually there are between 4 and 8 pawns. There is the same amount of space between each pawn. 

The goal is to slalom around the pawns as quickly as possible. This exercise can be done with or without a ball.

Doing this exercise warms up the muscles in the legs as well as the ankle and knee joints. 

During a game, this is important because there are often situations where you have to pass a player with the ball.

Learn more about different agility exercises in our blog

X agility exercises every soccer player should do.

Exercises with the ball

After the muscles and joints have been properly warmed up, various exercises are done with the ball. 

The reason for this is to get more focus, concentration and feeling with the ball. In addition, the exercises with the ball also keep the muscles warm.

There are many different exercises that soccer players can do with the ball. Often, one or more of the following exercises are done:

  • Passing the ball (short passes)
  • Passing long passes
  • Shooting at goal
  • Rondo
  • Keeping the ball up
  • Slalom with the ball

Speed and reflex exercises

Finally, a warm-up includes speed and reflex exercises. 

These exercises are done to get the players sharp for the match. This is because it increases concentration and focus.

However, this is only done at the end of a warm-up because the muscles are then properly warmed up. If this exercise is done too quickly, there is a chance that the player may injure himself.

The following are examples of speed and reflex exercises:

  • Short sprints
  • Long sprints
  • Ladder training (at high intensity)
  • Side sprints with touching pawns

How long does a warm-up last for soccer players?

A good warm-up takes at least 15 minutes and usually lasts around 30 minutes. However, there are also outliers of 35 minutes, 40 minutes and even 45 minutes. 

Within 15 minutes the basic exercises can be done. You have enough time in this case to do movement and stretching exercises. These two are essential because they ensure that muscles and joints become warm and flexible. This is important to reduce the risk of injury.

If there is more time then the other parts can also be completed.

How long does a warm-up of professional soccer players take?

The warm-up of professional soccer players lasts between 25 and 35 minutes. In this time, all parts of a warm-up can be completed. However, you sometimes see outliers. For example, they can also take 40 or 45 minutes.

What else is important during a warm-up?

It is not just performing the different parts that is important to perform a warm-up properly.

It is also important to wear the right clothing. Especially when it is cold, careful thought should be given to what clothing is worn. 

For example, when you have to play soccer in temperatures that are near freezing, it is wise to dress warmly during the warm-up. 

Wear, for example, a training vest and training pants and possibly a sports cap and sports gloves. 

This ensures that the muscles and joints become warm and flexible faster. If you wait for the ball during the warm-up (e.g. ball exercises) because a teammate passes it to you, you stand still. At this point your muscles can cool down. By wearing warm clothing you limit this. 

To keep muscles warm during the game, soccer players wear thermal clothing. Learn more about thermal clothing in our blog Why do soccer players wear thermal clothing?

How important is a warm-up for soccer players?

A warm-up brings many different benefits. There is a reason a warm-up is done in every sport. It is no different with soccer. 

Especially to reduce the chance of injuries, a warm-up is done. However, a warm-up also allows a soccer player to move better, perform better, have more focus and have more confidence. Would you like to know more about this? Then read our blog Why do soccer players do a warm-up?

Individual warm-up

Earlier in this blog, we explained that movement exercises are mostly done as a team. However, one or more players may do an individual warm-up. 

They do this to pay extra attention to certain muscle groups and/or joints. This is done when a soccer player has recovered from an injury. Some soccer players have certain muscles that are more susceptible to injury. This too is a reason why they do individual warm-ups. It gives them more time to focus on the vulnerable muscles.

Do goalkeepers do the same warm-up as field players?

Goalkeepers do a part of the same warm-up as field players. Goalkeepers, like field players, do movement exercises and stretches. 

These exercises differ at some point from what field players do. This is because goalkeepers focus more on warming up and stretching muscles in the upper body. For goalkeepers, it is more important that, for example, the muscles in the back, shoulders and chest become properly warm and flexible. This has everything to do with the fact that goalkeepers use these muscles more. They need them, for example, to try to keep the ball out of the goal and they may roll and throw the ball to players, for example.


By now you know exactly what to do to do a proper warm-up before a soccer game. With at least 15 minutes, you can ensure that the muscles and joints are properly warmed up and become flexible so that you are less likely to get injured. 

Rather, however, spend another 10 to 15 minutes to also do agility exercises, exercises with the ball and speed and reflex exercises. This ensures more concentration, more focus, a better feeling with the ball and more confidence. 

As you have seen, in this blog we refer to other blogs here and there. We have done this to provide you with even more information on specific topics. 

Are you interested in all the blogs about warm-ups? Then click on one of the links or view the overview here.

February 18, 2023
Published: February 18, 2023