It’s the first thing I do with every youth team, no matter the sport, is make sure they perform a complete dynamic warm up before every practice and every game. A regular dynamic warm up, done with dedication and proper form, has been shown to reduce the chance of ACL injuries 50% or more in athletes around the world.
But there are a lot of programs out there, and this may be confusing for some coaches and parent-coaches. If you’re confused by all these different programs or unsure about when and how to do the dynamic warm up, you may find Chapter 5 of my book, Fit2Finish: Keeping Your Soccer Players in the Game helpful. Or head here to watch a video how-to to develop the Fit2Finish dynamic warm up for your team.
If what you’d like is a short cheat sheet with the steps to help protect your players against sports injuries, here are the 5 components of a quality dynamic warm up: (print version of the warm up)
I. Introductory movement exercises increase body temperature and wake up the joints. Everything should be performed on the move, staying light on the feet and balanced right to left. I’ve listed them as paired “out and back” trips but you can add low intensity fitness work by slipping a jog-back between each step. (5-8 minutes)
- Jog forward
- Jog backward
- Walk on heel-heel, toe-toe
- Little ankle kicks/flicks/ankle rolls
- Slide side (facing right, moving left); NO clicking of heels together
- Slide side (facing right, moving right)
- Slide forward, alternating right and left diagonal (“Wizard of Oz”)
- Drop step (backward “Wizard of Oz”)
- Knee up and out, “open the gate” (do as 3-count: step-step-knee up and out; this results in alternating legs)
- Knee out, in and down, “close the gate”
- Carioca left with emphasis on first step across (1—2-3-4 and repeat)
- Carioca right (1—2-3-4)
- Step kick to opposite hand (do as 3-count as above; keep body upright: foot lifted to touch suspended hand)
- Step and “T”-lean (balanced on one leg, the other extended straight behind with toe down, arms out to the sides in a T)
- High knees
- Butt kicks
- Sprint to quick, multi-step stop (out)
- Sprint to quick, multi-step stop (back)
- Forward plank/lift a leg/reach an arm (hold 30+ secs, for 1-3 sets)
- Side plank/arm over head/lift top leg (hold 30+ secs, for 1-3 sets)
- Hamstring- Russian lean OR reverse plank/reverse plank lifting one leg/support leg on ball (start with 3-5 reps, up to 12 reps)
- Single leg stance/hop/shove
- Basic Squat/ walking lunges/one-legged squats
- Vertical jumps/lateral jumps/split step jumps
- Power skips – for height, then for distance
- Bounding – running leaps forward
- Jog with springing upward – as in heading or rebounding
- Plant and cut – diagonal course
V. Final pre-game sprints prepare bodies to hit top speed when the whistle blows.
- Backpedal to pivot and sprint
- Side slide to turn and sprint
- Run short bursts at 100%
The FIFA 11+ is a popular version of the dynamic warm up. You can download the FIFA 11+ cards demonstrating the exercises, the summary poster and even a comprehensive workbook detailing the how’s and why’s of the program. Here’s the video featuring demos by Alex Morgan and Cobi Jones. All of these can be modified in intensity for various ages and abilities.
Contact Fit2Finish with questions or to share how your kids are making the Killer Dynamic Warm up work for them!