Daniel Frankl, Ph.D.
Cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, muscular strength and endurance work best when incorporated into specific ball control drills and lead-up games for soccer. A low intensity review of previously introduced skills may serve as a general warm-up session. A gradual build-up of practice intensity may serve as a specific warm-up activity (whenever possible try to avoid formal warm-ups, formal fitness drills etc...) before a practice game. Make sure to always leave time for practice games. Children should be exposed to a variety of shapes and sizes of balls and other manipulative objects.
Since young children's attention span is relatively short, plan a variety of lead-up games and activities. Make sure to plan water breaks and allocate time for socializing among team members (some of your 5-7 year old team members may be more into climbing the trees and chasing each other than showing interest in your wonderful practice plan) following practice or a game. Remember, each child on a soccer team may be required to be as committed as, and as serious as, an average teammate, not average parent or coach!
WARM-UP AND COOL-DOWN FOR SOCCER
I. The term "Warm-Up" may mean different things to different people. For some it means brief stretching, and for others it is vigorous exercise leading to perspiration and breathlessness. There exists no one warm-up routine that serves as the proper preparation for all activities. One needs, therefore, to select and adjust warm-up activities to suit the type of exercise he/she plans to engage in.
II. The purpose of a warm-up period before a soccer practice or game is to prepare your body, both physically and mentally for the activity.
The purpose of the cool-down is (1) to help slowly return your heart rate to normal, (2) to help work some of the waste products of physical activity, and (3) to assist venus blood return. Heart rate under normal conditions is expected to drop below 120 bpm after 5 minutes of cool down. A heart beat of over than 120 bpm 5 minutes after stopping exercise indicates that the athlete exercised too strenuously. In case the athlete's heart rate stays above 100 bpm after resting several hours--consult personal physician.
Copyright © 1997- 2011 Daniel Frankl, Ph.D.
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Last Modified: February 19, 2011