Try This Dynamic Pre-Match Routine Before Your Next Match

Lateral step
(Image credit: Unknown)

This article was published by Men’s Fitness UK in April 2008. It was reformatted in 2022 to make it easier to read.

We hope you know by now that a football warm up is essential, and if you don’t know, we can only guess that you’ve never suffered one of these common football injuries. Good for you. Starting warming up properly to avoid it happening in future by incorporating this short routine from Everton’s head of sports science Dave Billows. It’s part of a series of advice, which includes how to improve your footballing ability and a football sprint workout.

1 Lateral knee roll

Sets 3 Time 1min

  • Line up hurdles or cones one stride apart.
  • Run sideways up the line, leading with the first leg over the hurdle.
  • Raise the trailing leg high into the air to bring it over the hurdles. At the end of the line, go back along it facing the same way, leading with your other leg.

Bellow says: “You need to activate your hip flexors and core muscles before a match, and this move warms them up along the functional plane of movement for controlling and kicking the ball.”

2 Lateral step

Sets 3 Time 1min

  • Place two hurdles or cones a few feet apart.
  • Start in the middle and step laterally over one hurdle, pausing on the leading leg.

Lateral step

(Image credit: Unknown)
  • Drive off the leading leg to step back inside the hurdle. Take one side-step, then step one leg over the other hurdle.

Bellow says: “Controlling your bodyweight on one leg as you move sideways activates the stabilising muscles around your ankle and hip, and prepares you to do the same in a pressured game situation.”

3 Running squat brake

Sets 3 Time 30sec

  • Sprint forwards for five metres, then stop suddenly with both your feet level.
  • Immediately drop into a half-squat so that you activate your quads and use them to bring a halt to your forwards momentum.
  • Pause, then repeat.

Bellow says: “Football is unpredictable and you often have to stop with very little warning in order to retain the ball or win a position. Your quads act as a brake but they need to be thoroughly warmed up to do so without injury.”

Nick Hutchings worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Nick worked as digital editor from 2008 to 2011, head of content until 2014, and finally editor-in-chief until 2015.