The start of a session sets the tone for the day, focuses the players on soccer and gets their body ready for physical activity. With younger teams (U12 and below) I like to start with a game that relates to the topic I’ll be teaching. One of my favorites for days that we are working on dribbling is a progression of Tag.
To begin with, the players leave their ball outside the grid. The two players who are ‘It’ (you can use only one for the youngest players) hold a colored bib. The other players move freely throughout the grid. The players who are ‘It’ try to tag another player. If they do, that player gets the shirt and tries to tag someone else. The other players are encouraged to move constantly and be aware of where the ‘It’ players are.
After two minutes everyone, including the players who are ‘It’, get a ball. The rules are the same but now everyone has to control a ball while they are trying to tag players and avoid being tagged. If a player dribbles out of the area they take the bib from the closest defender.
Next, the players who are ‘It’ leave their ball outside the area and instead of trying to tag people with their hand, they try to tag the ball with their foot. The dribblers are asked to move the ball away from the pressuring player and protect it.
In the final progression the players who are ‘It’ must take the ball away before their change role with the dribbler. If the ‘It’ players kicks the ball out of the area, the dribbler gets it back. If the dribbler leaves the area, he changes roles with the closest defender.
This is an easy to understand warm-up that provides everything necessary to prepare a player for practice. It is also progressive as it begins without a ball adds more defensive pressure gradually. You can add pressure by increasing the number of defenders depending on the age and ability of the players.
What is your favorite warm-up?