How to prepare for a Soccer Game – Getting Ready!

When it comes to Soccer, there is nothing better than playing the ACTUAL game. Most young players may not enjoy running laps during practice, going over tactics, or perhaps the agility drills to work on their fitness. However, EVERYONE loves Game Time!

Now, this article is about “how to prepare for a soccer game”, individually and as a team. Players and coaches should be aware of these critical points to make sure that the game day goes as planned. Not only playing well and getting a W, but also having everyone safe and healthy by the end of the match. Some things that I consider “obvious” include:

  • Be on Time: About one hour before the kickoff.
  • Wear Appropriate Gear: Remember, the weather tells you what to wear!
  • ***DON’T FORGET***
  • TO COACH – Soccer balls and a few cones will be needed
  • TO PLAYERS – Make sure you eat AT LEAST 2 hours before the kickoff
  • >> Water – Water – Water <<

Check the Field (if possible)

Depending on the situation, players will have time to walk on the field and check for holes, dangerous items like glass, or how good/bad a field is even before the warm up. If this is the case, everyone should be encouraged to walk around and make sure they are aware of the condition of the field.

It is important to highlight that the condition of the field and the weather can determine how to play the game and what style will lead to a better performance. For example, on a rainy day the ball will skip a lot; on a field with high grass, the passes will need more power to get to the targeted area.

Again, coaches and players should take a look at the field before/during the warm up, if possible.

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Warm Up / Game Mode

Make sure the players are focused in the game and ready for it. I usually tell my players to get in “GAME MODE” as soon as I get to the field. Right before the warm up, I make sure that their minds are where they should be.

The warm up should have the typical run, static stretch, and dynamic stretch routines.

  1. Run: Player should run 2-3 laps at 30% to get the legs moving and slowly picking up the pace to 40-50%.
  2. Static Stretch: Captains should lead the stretch. About 20 different moves. Coaches should run this during practice so that player have an idea of what/how to stretch.
  3. Dynamic Stretch: Just like the Static Stretch, players should complete this task.

This portion of the warm up should last approximately 25 minutes. This would prevent/reduce muscular injuries.

Simple Shooting & Passing Drills

Once the players have completed the stretching part of the warm up, they can get into some shooting and passing/possession drills to them ready to shine! Since the main purpose of the game is to SCORE, then shooting helps them get into that mentality right before the game.

I would include some crossing and finishing, possessions 5 vs 5 in a small area, and passing into the space. There should be a routine for this so that players can run this on their own. Of course, a coach should supervise the drills at all times but PLAYERS should know exactly what to do.

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Final Talks! (Coach and Players)

Coaches should encourage players to talk among themselves about plays, ways to communicate, special “codes”, or simply about tactics that were prepared during practice. I would have individual conversation with my key players and those that tend to require a little push.

Soccer is a team sport so there should be no “isolation” because no player can win a game COMPLETELY by himself/herself. Maybe a player need “a minute” to get focused and ready but other than that, everyone should be on the same page – GAME TIME!

Motivation and Encouragement

This is what I think can bring a team together and win championships. No matter how good a team is, if there is no motivation, the game plan can collapse at any time. I truly believe that humans move because of motivation and there is no doubt that soccer players need to be motivated and encouraged to show their best skills on the field to win games.

I sometimes wonder if top professional players’ performances correlate to the way they felt a few hours before the game. For example, I can’t understand why Messi can be “a beast” with Barcelona FC but he struggles with his national team, Argentina. There is no doubt that it has to do with the motivation and encouragement that he receives at both places and that leads him to feel in a certain way. What do you think? Comment below.

 

Reminding your players that on a game we get to see the result of the effort, time, sacrifice, and hard work that they put in is a great way to motivate them. I also mention the fact that their parents/guardians do whatever they can to support them and they don’t want to come to see us performing below our best! I make it very personal and as a team we do our “TEAM on 3 – 1,2,3 TEAM” thing and get on the field with all the positive energy that we have.

At the end of the day, I want my players to be satisfied with their performance and enjoy the best sport in the world… SOCCER!

Leave your thoughts and suggestions. Thank you 🙂


24 thoughts on “How to prepare for a Soccer Game – Getting Ready!

  1. I love playing football (yes, football- not soccer ;), and these are definitely some great tips to have in mind when preparing for the big game. I agree with you; while technical drills like passing and shooting are good, nothing beats making sure the team spirit is there and everyone is motivated and ready to play. Do you think the motivational speech should come from the captain or the manager? Or both?

    • Great comment Danny. I must say that the preparation before the game is SO important!! I remember my years as a soccer player and I was focused. I have trouble getting that message across to most of my players. Some of them get it, but some of them don’t. it may be their age or exposure to soccer. Many of my players don’t have much experience with big soccer games yet.

      I think that the motivational speech has to come from both. The manager/coach must get them into the “game mode” and the players should also feel it. The captains are the leaders on the field and the way they play is an example to the rest of players. Thank you for stopping by! Don’t forget to check out the rest of my articles 🙂

  2. Wow, I never really knew what it took to prepare for a soccer game, but I’m glad that you provided that information. Checking the field makes a lot of sense because you don’t want to find any unexpected surprises such as holes or even glass as you mentioned. I know it’s always essential to warm up before a major game of any sort in the world of sports so it’s definitely no exception when it comes to soccer. I know someone who will definitely benefit from this since they play a lot of soccer. Thanks for sharing this. Do you have any other tips or things regarding preparing for a soccer game? I take it water or Gatorade would be the best drinks to use to get hydrated before a game?

    • Thank you for the comment. Yes, I would say to take either water or Gatorade to stay hydrated throughout the game. I would personally drink water during the game. Another thing you can do to prepare for a game is “eat a banana” at least an hour before the game, perhaps before the warm up. That would take care of cramps that you may get for running so much. 

      -Victor Farfan

  3. On the subject of warming up before a game of footie…

    When I played at a relatively high level as a teenager, we had a coach that used to go absolutely nuts with us if he saw us warming up for more than five minutes. He used to refer to a welsh center forward named Ian Rush, who never really warmed up for longer than a couple of minutes. 

    Rush used to insist that his game would only be at 90% if he warmed up – and our coach (who firmly believed he was the best coach in the world!) used to go along with this! 

    We didn’t see many injuries in the team, but looking back, I’m sure some of the muscle niggles could have been down to this – especially the way the pros warm up these days.

    What are your thoughts on minimum levels of warming up?

    • Great comment. Even though I have never seen a study done on the correlation between time spent to warm up before a game and number of injuries during a game, I think that the warm up is important. Now, I must agree that younger players do not need a complete warm up. In fact, they do not need a warm up routine (running and stretching) before a game because they are always ready to run! I would still recommend a warm up for older player because it not doesn’t only help the body get on “game mode” but it is also a way for the team to get together and prepare for the game on all aspects: tactics, communication, and basic concepts like “passing and movement”. 

      I will definitely do my research on Ian Rush’s philosophy. Thank you for stopping by and sharing such an interesting comment!

  4. For me, soccer is the best sport in the world. I am not a professional football player but I enjoy playing with my friends nearly every day. I think that most important is to warm well and to be motivated all the time because if we lose our will, we will not win for sure. I will forward this article to my best friend who is in soccer professionally.

  5. This is a really great post!  My kids all did soccer, but we live in an area where it’s just not available for the older kids.  But, the little ones love soccer.  So, all of my kids got to do it.  I love it because it’s a team sport.  There’s not a lot of equipment needed for it, and it’s a great exercise for the kids…well, everyone.  I never really understood the rules, but I was glad there were people there that did and were able to instruct my young ones in the best ways.

    I would love it if we could get soccer here where I live throughout the kids’ entire school careers.  I like it better than football, but that’s kind of the sport here.  It’s a nice, active summer sport.

    Your article is getting me thinking more about getting it out here for the older kids.  Now I need to research and see what’s available in the surrounding areas as well.  

    Thank you!  It’s getting me wanting this in our area more 🙂

    • Your comment is just a HUGE encouragement for me! It is my goal to spread my passion for soccer to everyone that enjoys this beautiful sport.  Soccer teaches so many social skills and builds players’ personalities on and off the field. I can’t wait to hear more about what you may do to get your neighbors more into soccer. It’s just a great motivation for me to keep getting content out there for people like you. THANK YOU!

      Hopefully the older kids in your area find my website helpful. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Hello Victor,

    I definitely could have used this post a year ago.  I was “talked” into coaching soccer to a group of boys, including my son.  It was an awesome experience and as I mentioned, I wasn’t really prepared for it, but the team needed a coach so I stepped in.

    As I read through your article, I found that I did eventually coach many of the skills that you outline. But what I found with the younger group, is that they tend to gather around the ball.  Rather than staying in  their positions.  Do you also find this to be the case with beginners?

    • That’s great man, that you stepped in for a position that you weren’t ready. I’m sure you did an amazing job with the boys! It’s true. New players are not immediately familiar with the position and all the say is “the ball”. As young players, they can’t fully understand the tactics of soccer and therefore they just want to get the ball and score. Eventually, as they get more experience, they learn to stay in their positions and about their roles on the field.

      Thank you for stopping by my friend!

  7. Great article! It is obvious that you not only care about the game but also care deeply about the players. The preparation you lay out in your article is spot on. It is extremely important that players are physically ready for the game and the preparation is the key to that. The most important thing I see about your article though is the importance of motivation and team spirit. I completely agree. Without that it really doesn’t matter how good a player or a team is. They must know that they are on a team that cares about them and wants the best for them. I really think your points throughout the article can apply to any sports activity. I have a granddaughter that is starting soccer and I am going to pass your article along to her mother! Thanks again for sharing your experience!

    • My players are more important that a win. I need to make sure they are ready, in all aspects, for the game. As you mentioned, motivation is key to succeed. 

      Best of luck to your granddaughter! Hopefully she finds my website helpful. She can take a look at my articles on “soccer positions”. My pleasure!

  8. It’s interesting to read your thoughts about how to prepare for a soccer game. I’m not a player my self but I’ve watched many games being played and even though I know it’s a routine for the players to walk round the field and have small circular meetings prior to the start of the game, I didn’t have any idea what was the purpose of all this. This post is therefore an eye opener to me.

    I strongly feel that motivation to the team and getting focused before getting into the play ground is one of the most important determinant factors for winning or loosing the game. I’ve watched coaches shouting at the players after losing a game and although I know it’s inevitable, yet it’s not the right idea because it may kill the player’s morale for the next game.

    Thank you for writing such an informative post.

    • I totally agree with you, shouting at the players after a loss is not going to help. My players know from the beginning of the season that we will not have a conversation right away if we lose a game. Next time in practice, we talk about what were our mistakes and how can we improve our overall performance. (If we win a game, I just give a quick speech and that’s it.)

      Thank you for supporting my website with a nice comment. Check out some of my other articles on “soccer positions”.

  9. Playing Soccer in the old country as a kid was always fun. Since my father didn’t had a son but me,lol, he certainly got me interested in the game at an early age.

    Until I was 10 we played in mixed groups, meaning, boys and girls together, after that I had to switch to a girls club which wasn’t that all great back then in comparison to the support the boys would have received.

    Reading your post made me realize that we, the girls, didn’t receive much “mental” motivation back then, in the 70’s.

    Later, when my partner was coaching 12-14 years old boys, their training was way better .He did most of it what you have mentioned in your post and did motivate them, psychologically, before every match.

    It seems to work since in those 2 years he was coaching them they only lost 3 times. 

    So, yeah, I do believe that the right motivation is also an important part during a training and before each game.

    Great article, thanks, it brought lots of memories back. 🙂

    • That’s an amazing record!! 3 losses in 2 years is great. you are right, the motivation is at times everything a team needs because players may have the skills but they need to use them appropriately to succeed. Not all games are the same either, some days are just “bad days” but overall I think a player must feel motivated to play his/her best.

      So glad I was able to bring lots a happy memories back 🙂 Thank you for stopping by!

  10. This is a great post. I love soccer/football and I play it since very young. I think one of the most important aspects of football is to use the correct pair of shoes. This is critical when you will play in natural grass or synthetic grass, wood-floor or even asphalt. For each one of surface you will need a different pair of shoes for the best performance. This is is awesome since designs now are so great and comfortable. 

  11. Great information! my son just starting to  play soccer and he is so addicted! With your information, although he is just running around with ball, it is important to know the preparation. I shall let my dad know to do the warming up just in case the muscle ache might disable him the next day! I will check out your free tips!

  12. Thanks for that great post. I’ve been a big fan of Christiano Ronaldo for some time. He has done a lot for the popularity of soccer. Where I live in Australia Rugby is a much higher profile sport, but when you look at soccer internationally, it leaves rugby for dead.  I agree with what you say, you can have a great team , but it takes motivation and encouragement to make them winners.

    My 14 year old daughter likes to play soccer at school, but she injured her knee and spent a few months wearing a brace. The doctor says she has ‘hyperextensive’ joints, which is why she is prone to injury. Can you recommend anything that could help her continue to play as she loves it so much? 

    Thanks for all that great information. 

    • Hi, she just have to be very careful. Unfortunately, a knee injury is so devastating in soccer for players. The lateral and quick movements required to play soccer put a lot of pressure on the knees. Wish her good luck and again, she can still enjoy the most beautiful sport on earth but must be careful. I’m sure she will score some goals 🙂

  13. Hi,

    I review your post on Soccer World123 and was quite impressed with content, Keywords, and overall appearance of the post. Soccer is a sport I don’t really follow. But, I feel with any sport it is great to have a card or reminders of what to do when making preparations for game day. 

    I was privileged to spend a few years with someone that had a daughter playing soccer. They would travel various places to games and tournaments. I know there were the get ready speech from coaches and parents. So, I think the ideal was brilliant and will support soccer coaches and teams to prepare for game days. 

    What I try to focus on is not only going out on the field and have fun and enjoy the game you play. But, the common injuries that can be avoided with reminders. Then if the injury does not warrant going to the emergency Room, what actions should be taken to treat injuries at home after the game. 

    One of a parents worst feeling is to see their child lying on the ground with a possible injury. There is no words when teams you play against play dirty. There need to be better (Rules) in place for teams that don’t have good sportsman ship.

    Great Website and topic, I wish you great success!

    Regards,

     

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