Soccer is a fun way for kids to get exercise. Around Grade 5 or 6 (U11/U12) those muscle groups start to get big enough to generate appreciable force. If they aren’t sufficiently prepared for what the game demands, injuries are more likely – putting a (hopefully) brief pause to the fun & exercise.
ASC recommends two warm-up programs so that you can choose the one that best suits your needs. Follow the links to get to resources such as videos & handy printouts to help you get the routine down with your team:
1) The FIFA 11+ (official FIFA recommendation, shown to reduce injuries by ~50%)
2) PEP program. (developed by a group that supports FIFA sports medicine)
It is important that the coach carefully educate the players on the correct movement, body and leg positions. Incorrect exercises can actually increase the risk of injury, particularly to the knee. Demonstrate by showing & ensure that players don’t get lazy in their efforts with repeated reminders on good form. If you start this early and consistently it will become a routine and fun part of your practice & pre-game warm-up.
Coaches can start this at least as early as U11 for either 11+ or PEP, you just need to modify some of the exercises – e.g. single leg hopping is done with 2 legs together for these younger ages to increase support when landing. Coach Ronan O’Hagan (ASC Development Director) has used PEP with each team he has coached from Gr.5/U11 on where he usually starts it over the winter of their Gr. 5/U11 season in the gym.
As you get ready to hit the outdoor fields over the next couple of weeks you will start the season off with healthy players & do your best to keep them that way.
If you wish to build on these warm-ups, Coach Paige has created a series of SAQ (speed-agility-quickness) activities and posted them here as easy lesson plans.
Have fun out there!