My three go-to warm-ups

“When asked what my three go-to U12s warm-ups are, I have no hesitation in listing them out”, says Dan Brockhurst, owner of DB Sports Coaching.


Play this with three or more people. “It” makes the list because it is easy to explain; everyone has played it before; everyone enjoys it, even the seniors, and it involves everyone.

Set Up

Play in any shape you want or even without designating a shape – just play where you are. 

Give one player a ball. He/she is “It”, or the “target” in this game. Start with that player throwing the ball away. This can be to a player or into space.

Now, the other players must collect the ball and catch the “target” by touching them with the ball.


You cannot run with the ball, but you can run without it. You cannot throw the ball at the “target”. Balls can be passed in any direction. The “target” can run in any direction, and you cannot hold or block the runner. The objective is simple: touch the “target” with the ball.

Coaching Points

If you pass the ball to where the player is now, they have time to move, but if you anticipate their run and pass to someone close to the space that you think they are moving into then you have a better chance of success.

If you have a player that isn’t involved or hasn’t had much of the ball, make them the target – they will engage and enjoy escaping from the others.

If you have lots of players, throw more balls in. More balls create more touches and more opportunities to be caught.

Set time limits – I often play one-minute games – or simply start a 10-second countdown at a random point.


I use this icebreaker during joint training sessions with other clubs, but it is also great for developing communication.

Set Up

Groups of six to eight are ideal. Taking a group of eight, have seven of them form a circle and link this together with bibs (each player holding one end of a bib) – they could alternatively hold hands or link arms but I find that bibs work best.

 You now have seven in the circle and one player outside of the circle. Give the player outside of the circle a ball.


Touch a player in the circle on the back with the ball.


The circle can only move rotate – reinforce this regularly or chaos may ensue. 

The target (black arrow above) should be a player on far side of the circle when you start.


Once everyone has had a go at being outside of the circle, you can extend it by having two and then three players out of the circle, allowing them to pass the ball. 

Challenge rules remain the same for those in the circle.

Outside players can run and pass to each other but the passes cannot go OVER the circle. If anyone falls over or the circle breaks, the ball carrier wins.


Easy to set up, quick to explain and incredibly adaptable to suit skill level.

Set Up

Use any space, any shape pitch, and any number of players. Divide players into two teams – it doesn’t have to be even sides.


You cannot run with the ball, you can run without the ball, and you can pass in any direction. Complete 10 passes to score a point.

To stop players crowding the ball carrier, you can introduce a rule that says: if the ball carrier can touch you with the ball, for example, that player must touch a cone or do a funny dance.


  • Overhead pass only. (A)
  • The defence touch the ground after each pass (great for allowing attack to see space). (B)
  • Dropped balls lead to a turnover. (C)
  • You can’t pass to the player that passed to you. (D)
  • Simplify if needed to five passes to score.
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