13 Warm-Up Activities with the Ball

It’s seen less and less often today, but back in time warm-ups were hardly ever done with a ball and incorporated things like running laps and static stretching. Luckily, coaches of today have realized that warm-up activities can incorporate the ball, whether it be gradually or right away, and achieve the same outcomes of “warming-up”. In fact, these activities not only get players moving and hypothetically help to decrease the risk of injury as a good warm-up should; but they also get players to practice their technical and tactical skills. This allows players to warm-up not just their muscles, but their brains as well. Here are 13 warm-up activities for young players, aged 6-14.

u6-u9

1. PASSING WITH GATES

Setup/Execution: Players work in pairs of two with one ball, passing and moving. If players are taking too many touches in between passes, limit touches or seconds on the ball.
1. Pass and move, avoiding the cones/gates.
2. Each pair has five points, every time the ball hits a cone or they hit a cone with their foot, they lose a point. Keep going even if you get to 0 points, but last team with points on the board wins.
3. Which team can get the most passes in 1 minute, while avoiding the cones.
4. Which team can get the most passes through gates in 1 minute. 

Coaching Points:  
– Part of the foot & weight of pass.
– Scanning the field to see cones & teammate and move to open space based on surroundings. – Receive away from cone at first (#1-3), then later toward it with the first touch (#4)
– Never turn your back to the ball, always move where you can see your
partner and the ball.

2. running with the ball with gates

Setup/Execution: Every player has a ball and runs with the ball around the area. Coach calls either “1” or “2”. “1” = change of speed. “2” = change of direction. First players avoid gates, then progress to go through gates. Who can get the most gates in one minute? For even younger players can be adapted into shark island where gates are shark islands.

Coaching Points:
– Head up, see the space, see other players.
– Turn/change direction to avoid pressure and advance into new space.
– Keep ball close to body.
– Use of speed, while keeping ball under control.

3. avoid the dribblers

Setup/Execution: Players are divided into two teams. White team keeps possession of one ball. Each green team player dribbles a ball, while looking for opportunities to kick away or intercept white team’s ball. White team gets 1 point for every three passes. Green team gets 1 point anytime they kick away or intercept white team’s ball (while still controlling their own balls). Competition to five points, then switch roles.

Coaching Points: (white team)
– First touch out of body, into space and away from pressure. Open hips.
– As soon as you make a pass, move and find open space to receive again
– Don’t just stand still even when open, movement is a constant process
– Run with the ball when space is available. Doesn’t always have to be a pass.
– Maximize space by making the field bigger when in possession, but always give a few close options too.

4. dribbling with numbers

Setup/Execution: Players run with the ball around a tight area, keeping their head up and avoiding other players. Coach calls: “1” = change speed, “2” = change direction. Then progress to add in other numbers. Any number higher than 1/2 is the group size they must find. First group of that size to form wins, then get back to running with the ball right away.

Coaching Points:
– Keep head up
– Keep ball close to body
– Accelerate after turning
– Scanning of the field to see players
– Mix of speed and control

5. team passing

Setup/Execution: Divide into two teams right away. Each team pass and moves with one ball, trying to find teammates in open space. Progress to different challenges, like passing and dribbling with only the weak foot, two touch passing, etc. Don’t overcomplicate it or make it too difficult relative to age. Can also adapt to add in gates (obstacles) that the teams must avoid as they pass and move, to increase scanning.

Coaching Points:
– Keep head up
– Keep ball close to body
– Maximize playing area by making the field big and giving both close and far options for passes
– Diamond and triangle shapes to connect

6. passing – half have balls

Setup/Execution: First, pass and move with ball in a pair of two. Then not long after, progress to now you can pass to anyone that is open, then try and find a new ball. For older players, you can increase the challenge by making it two/three touch or weak foot.

Coaching Points:
– Constant movement to receive
– Open body shape/half-turn to play both directions
– First touch out of body into space
– Part of foot and follow-through to achieve correct weight of pass (inside foot, lock ankle)

7. dribble warm-up with passing twist

Setup/Execution: Players run with the ball around the area, keeping head up and performing different skill moves, speeds or turns on coach’s call. Meanwhile, one pair of players passes with one ball and avoids all the dribblers, who can try and get in the way. Switch which two players are passing often.

Coaching Points:
– Scanning the field to see open space.
– First touch out of body into space
– Keep head up when dribbling.
– Types of turns, speeds, skills, etc. (one at a time)

u8-u14

8. pass & move with 4 squares

Setup/Execution: Four players are locked into a square and must be freed by receiving a pass and dribbling out. The player that passed then becomes locked in the square until they receive a pass and can dribble out themselves. Cyclical process of passing and moving.

Coaching Points:
– Constant movement to receive
– Scanning the field to see open player
– First touch out of body into space
– Part of foot and follow-through to achieve correct weight of pass (inside foot, lock ankle)

9. PASSING WARM-UP WITH CENTRAL BOX

Setup/Execution: Divide into two teams right away. Each team pass and moves with one ball, trying to find teammates in open space. At random moments, players can move into the box at the right time to receive a pass, turn, dribble out, pass out, give and go, etc. Incorporate the box into different decision making processes. Be creative!

Coaching Points:
– Timing of the run into the box at the right moment. If it’s not on, keep moving and maybe someone else can open the space instead.
– Keep head up.
– Scanning the field to see when teammates have advanced into the box.

10. pass, number, transition

Set-Up/Execution: Four groups of 2-4 players. Players start by passing to players in their own box. Coach calls a number, which tells players which direction to play the ball to, as they pass to another box and then follow that pass. 1 = vertical pass (as shown). 2 = horizontal. 3 = diagonal. Slowly introduce these. Start with one, then add more.

Coaching Points:
– Don’t just kick it over to another box without looking, make sure you search for an open player, ready to receive.
– Communicate who you are passing to. – Part of foot/weight of pass.
– Transition over quickly by following your pass.
– Start passing and moving right away after the switch.

11. rondo with gates

Setup/Execution: Uneven numbers like 4v2/5v3/6v3, etc. White gets a point for either dribbling through or passing to a teammate through a gate. Green tries to win the ball back. They get a point every time they connect one pass. 

Coaching Points:
– Triangle, diamond shape to combine and use space.
– Scan the field to make quick decisions under pressure.
– Take first touch away from pressure into space.
– Win the ball back quickly and transition.

12. 2v2 possession + 3 neutrals

Setup/Execution: 2v2 + a neutral in a tight central grid. Two neutrals up and down a line on the outside. Just keep possession, looking to switch play from one side to the other to get a point.

Coaching Points:
– Triangle, diamond shape to combine and use space.
– Scan the field to make quick decisions under pressure.
– Take first touch away from pressure into space.
– Win the ball back quickly and transition.

13. PASS, MOVE, DEFEND, TRANSITION

Setup/Execution: If more than 8 players, make two copies of this. 3v3/4v4 possession in a tight area. 2 zones, one white, one green. Teams look to keep the ball in their zone, through passing and moving. After winning the ball, look to dribble into your coloured zone and then keep possession in your zone.

Coaching Points:
– Triangle, diamond shape to combine and use space.
– Scan the field to make quick decisions under pressure.
– Take first touch away from pressure into space.
– Win the ball back quickly and transition.


So there it is! 13 basic warm-ups incorporating passing, moving, dribbling and running with the ball. What are your favourite warm-up activities to do with the ball? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter @mastermindsite. Also be sure to see how some of these activities fit into various Session Plans on a variety of different topics.

You might also enjoy…
-> Playing Through The Central Midfielders
-> Individual Marking & Defensive Awareness – Analytical Activity
-> 5 Ways To Modify Small-Sided Games

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

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