Preparing for a soccer match goes beyond honing your skills on the field and following a strategic game plan. The dynamic warm-up routine which includes stretching exercises, plays a crucial role in optimizing performance and minimizing the risk of injuries. Here I’ll go over the best stretches to incorporate into your pre-match routine, helping you enhance flexibility, agility, and overall performance on the pitch.

1. Dynamic Warm-up

It’s important to start your warm-up with dynamic stretches, these are active movements that stretch muscles to their full range of motion . These movements increase your heart rate, blood flow, and prepare your muscles for the physical demands of the game. Here are a few dynamic warm-up exercises to consider:

  1. Jogging: Begin with a light jog around the field to increase body temperature and activate your cardiovascular system.
  2. Butt Kicks: Similar to high knees, kick your heels towards your glutes while jogging, targeting the hamstrings, and hip flexors.
  3. Quick Step Carioca: Perform a regular carioca but now quickly punch your knee across your body. This exercise warms up the adductor muscles on the inner thighs. Perform this exercise in going right and left.

2. Lower Body Dynamic Stretches

The more specific a dynamic warm up can be the better. It’s important to focus on muscles that are specific to running and sprinting. Here are some effective lower body movements:

  1. Walking Lunges: Take long strides forward while dropping your back knee towards the ground. This stretch targets your hip flexors, glutes, and hamstrings.
    Walking Lunges
  2. Butt Kick Raise: While standing, bring one foot towards your glutes, grabbing the ankle or foot with your hand. This stretch elongates the quadriceps muscles.
    Butt Kick Raise
  3. Track Hamstring Stretch: Taking a staggered stance with your back foot 4-6 inches from your front, turn the toe of your front foot inward while bending over and placing both hands on the side of your front toe. Keeping the arms straight elevate and lower your hips.
    Track Hamstring StretchTrack Hamstring Stretch
  4. Walking Calf Stretch: While walking forward bring your hand down to your opposite toe. Keeping your heel down, toe up, and slight bend in both knees.
    Walking Calf Stretch

3. Upper Body Stretches

While soccer primarily involves the use of lower body muscles, it’s important not to neglect your upper body. Proper upper body flexibility enhances balance, agility, and overall body coordination. Consider incorporating these upper body stretches:

  1. Arm Circles: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms straight out to the sides. Begin making small circles with your arms, gradually increasing their size. Reverse the direction after a few circles. This stretch targets the shoulders and improves mobility.
    Arm CirclesArm Circles
  2. Trunk Twist: Standing tall with both arms elevated and elbows bent, twist your upper torso to find your end range. Start with 5 slow pauses in each direction, followed by immediately doing 5 fast in each direction.
    Trunk TwistTrunk TwistTrunk Twist
  3. Quadruped Rotation: Position your body on all fours. Bring one hand behind your head then twist your upper body in that direction. You should aim to open your chest up more each twist. Start with 5 slow pauses in each direction, followed by immediately doing 5 fast in each direction.
    Quadruped Rotation

4. Core Activation

A strong core is essential for stability, balance, and explosive movements on the soccer field. Before a match, it’s beneficial to activate and engage your core muscles. Here’s are two exercises to incorporate:

  1. Plank: Begin in a push-up position, with your forearms resting on the ground. Engage your core and maintain a straight line from your head to your heels. Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute, or as long as you can maintain proper form.
  2. Bridge: Start on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Engage your core while pushing through your feet to lift your hips off the ground. Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute, or as long as you can maintain proper form.

Incorporating an effective active stretching routine into your pre-match preparation is key to optimizing your soccer performance and reducing the risk of injuries. By incorporating dynamic warm-up exercises, targeting lower and upper body stretches, and engaging your core, you’ll enhance flexibility, agility, and overall body coordination. Remember, consistency is crucial, at my gym The Boost Performance Center in Corona CA we progress the exercises in our warmups to increase complexity and further improve mobility over time. So make stretching a regular part of your soccer routine so you can stay flexible, stay healthy, and stay in the game!- Boostman


Coach Bass

Coach Bass

Owner, Boost Training Systems in Corona, CA
Level 1 & 2 Coach Bommarito Performance