Robert Mora / LA Galaxy

Movement Prep Exercise Library

Last week we introduced the thought process behind how the LA Galaxy as a club warm up and some of the benefits we get both in the short and long term from having an organized plan for how we go about this dedicated time at the start of every practice. 

Movement Prep: Introduction

We discussed how the warm up was very important for preparing the players for the demands of that particular day’s session and also how over time Movement Prep can lead to long term strength gains and healthier athletes. We also introduced the different components that we incorporate into our Movement Prep sessions: general warm up, activation exercises, dynamic stretches, movement skills, plyometrics and movement application drills.

This week we are going to look a little closer at each of those components as well as provide a beginner’s library of exercises to incorporate into your own team warm ups.  This library should hopefully be something that you can take and continue to build from and add your own exercises and drills to.

Let’s begin by breaking down each warm up component a little further.

General Warm up

With the Galaxy players, the general warm up consists of the traditional soccer warm up exercises.  We start every practice with a jog and some dynamics exercises like arm swings, side shuffles, high knees and butt kickers.  Remember, the purpose of the general warm up is to get the players moving at a very low intensity while starting to raise their core temperature and loosen up the muscles.  I usually set aside 4 to 7 minutes for this component and the intensity level should be roughly 50-70%.

Activation Exercises

The activation component consists of core and glute exercises to strengthen these muscles but also to make sure they are turned on and firing as they are very important for how powerful and efficient the players are with their running, jumping and cutting.  Example exercises include mini band, pillar, and bridging exercises to strengthen and activate the muscles.  I usually set aside 2-3 minutes for this component and will do 3-5 exercises within this section.

Dynamic stretching

When the Galaxy players stretch we make sure they are still moving and not just sitting around holding a stretch for 30 seconds.  All of the dynamic stretches are geared toward muscles and movement patterns the players use on the pitch and each stretch is held for 1 to 3 seconds, 5 to 8 reps on each side.  I usually set aside 3-4 minutes for stretches.

Movement Skill

Movement skill exercises address form and mechanics as well as build strength in these movements.  As we mentioned last week, every warm up should have a specific goal or purpose.  Some days will focus on linear (forward and backward) movements, while others focus on lateral or multidirectional movements.  Example exercises are marching, skipping, shuffling, and crossover exercises, depending on the focus of that day. They can be done at body weight or with resistance from a partner, resistance band or sled.  I usually set aside 3 to 4 minutes for these movements and will do 3-5 sets of movement exercises at 75-90% intensity.


With the plyometrics we focus on two different things: stability and power.  Depending on the hop, bound, or jumping exercise we do in this section it will be focused on being balanced and stable or on being explosive and powerful or a combination of the two.  I usually set aside 2-4 minutes for this component and will do 2-5 sets of 3-8 reps with intensity anywhere from 70-100% based off of a certain progression and the players’ ability to perform that progression with proper form and stability.

Movement Application Drills

To finish the warm up we try to link all of the previous components together and apply what we have been working on with runs or drills that incorporate that day’s focus (linear or multidirectional). In this section we also increase the intensity to a point that the players are ready to transition into the actual soccer practice.  These drills are performed at intensity levels of up to about 90-95%.  I usually set aside 2-4 minutes for this section with the time fluctuating based on how quickly or how many runs the players need to perform before getting them into the practice.

Now that you have an idea of what each warm up component consists of, lets take a look at some exercises to get you started when putting together your own warm ups.  Remember, I base my Movement Prep sessions on the fact that I have twenty minutes with the players.  Each of the times above are a rough estimate as sometimes more focus needs to be placed on one of the components more then another. 

When looking at this library, first determine how much total time you have for your warm up.  Then, determine what the focus of your warm up is going to be.  Play around with the number of exercises, the format and set up and find what works best for you and your team.

Next week we’ll use this library to put together a linear Movement Prep session with the players and show video from one of the Galaxy’s linear warm ups.


Movement Prep Exercise Library

General warm up Activation Dynamic Stretching Movement Skill Plyometrics Movement Application Drills
Jog MiniBand Forward walk Elbow to instep Linear march Drop squat Stride outs
Arm swings Miniband backward walk Back Lunge Linear skip Single leg drop squat Shuffle to accel
Side shuffle Miniband lateral walk Forward Lunge Power skip Lateral weight shift Crossover to accel
Linear March Miniband staggered forward Knee Hug Pop and float Linear hop Hurdles to accel
Linear skip Miniband staggered backward Leg Cradle Lateral march Lateral hop Sprint/jog
Lateral March Miniband staggered lateral Heel to Butt Lateral skip Linear bound Backpedal to accel
Lateral Skip Miniband diagonal Inverted Hamstring Crossover march Lateral bound Ladder drills
Power skips Miniband single leg abduction Handwalks Crossover skip 45 degree bound Quick feet to accel
Pop and Float Miniband single leg extension Sumo Squats Backward march Non Countermovement jump Falling starts
High Knees Miniband single leg hip flexion Lateral Squats Backward skip Countermovement jump Split stance starts
Butt kickers Prone Pillar Drop Lunges Shuffle to base Rotational jump  
Carioca Side Pillar Kneeling Quad/Hip Flexor Shuffle over and back Broad jump  
Diagonal shuffles Double leg glute bridge Kneeling straight leg hamstring      
Hip swings Single leg glute bridge Kneeling straight leg groin      
Leg swings Sidelying abduction 90/90      
Straight leg march Sidelying adduction Handwalk calf      
Straight leg skip          

More on the warm up:

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