Being around Sarnia youth sports this year I see more teams performing warm ups prior to games and practices. Sadly, most that I see are done very poorly. If not done correctly the warm up can negatively effect performance during a game or practice.
The following are some common warm up do’s and don’ts that will allow you to avoid putting your body at risk and ensure that you start the activity with the explosiveness that you require.
1) No stretching prior-to activity
It comes as a surprise to most people when I tell them that stretching prior to an activity is bad. They have heard their whole lives that stretching increases range of motion and prevents injuries, and that you need flexibility to avoid injury. These claims are false as most injuries occur during normal range of motion. We must imagine muscles like rubber bands, if you stretched out a rubber band for a long period of time it would be longer and less efficient at storing energy than its previous shorter form. Thus, a stretched muscle stores less energy and subsequently requires more energy to move.
2) Warm-up drills should mirror those movements performed in the activity.
It is well known, yet often overlooked in any type of warm up or training, that the warm up movements should be of similar motion and speed to those performed during the game. The body works on the S.A.I.D. principle. This means the body has:
This means that the more you perform the activities you do during the game, the better prepared your muscles will be at doing them. More refined and efficient movements will hopefully lead to less injury which is always great in any sporting activity.
3) Warm-up drills should be quick yet controlled.
Any movement that is performed during the warm up should be done with proper balance in mind. This is accomplished via continued activation of your core. To activate your core pretend that someone is going to punch you in the stomach while still maintaining your regular breathing patterns. Keeping this feeling while breathing and while performing warm up activities will ensure that the proper muscles are activated to create better balance.
4) Keep warm-up time roughly 15 minutes and a moderate intensity.
If a warm up is too short, you run the risk of not being ready, on the other hand if the warm up is too long then you can be tired at the start of the game setting yourself up for injury. A good warm up duration is roughly 15 minutes at a moderate intensity or just enough to begin to break a sweat. During your warm up activities you should be able to still talk / form a sentence without losing your breath, this means that you are still in the aerobic zone and are not burning useful energy stores needed for the game.
5) Be talkative and have fun during the warm-up.
In team sports, many friendships are formed and friends love to talk and share information about topics from what movie they saw last week or what happened at so and so’s house on the weekend. Warm up time is a great time to get social chatter out of the way prior-to hitting the dressing room before the game which requires a more serious attitude and more concentration. Once a team hits the dressing room they should be focused on how they are going to execute their role during the game.
In conclusion, an appropriate warm up will get your body ready for the game while emphasizing speed and balance which will then transfer into the specific movements of the game. By implementing a team warm up you will be mentally and physically prepared to start the game at a higher level and turn readiness into results.
If you are an athlete or a coach reading this article and would like Dr. Forbes' advice on creating a warm up for you or your team please contact him via his e mail address at DrJimForbes@Gmail.com