Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Warm-up Drills and Protocols for Athletes

OK, let's get to the basic principles behind the warm up. But I will warn you - once you read this you have no excuse for using static stretching or a sloppy, unorganized dynamic warm up with your team. Your warm-up should be done before you perform and speed or agility drills.

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1. Progress from slow, simple movements to faster, more complex movements.

Think back to my 'cold car' analogy. Your players have to start with movements that aren't going to put muscles in a position to pull or tear because they aren't fully warmed up.

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2. A good warm-up will have your players slightly out of breath and lightly sweating.

Anything less than this and they aren't ready to go at full speed. This means that on a speed day, the warmup should take a good 20 minutes.

Remember, our goal is to make your team faster. You can't cheat the warm up and expect your team to achieve their goals.

How you decide those numbers depends, again, on your training goals for that day.

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3. Make sure your players do the drills with perfect form every time!

You'd think this was a no-brainer, but in my experience that couldn't be further from the truth. The majority of the time, even in programs that claim to use a dynamic warm-up, the player's technique is so sloppy that it is almost counter-productive.

I'm serious!

In addition to being a great warmup, these drills also work on running mechanics, coordination, and flexibility. If your team just goes through the motions by doing the drills half-assed, then they're only setting themselves up to become injured.

Show your team how to do each drill correctly and get on them when they're not putting in the effort. I've kicked kids out of practice on more than one occasion because they didn't focus on their drills. If that takes too much effort to do correctly, then how can I expect them to properly execute in the workout or the competition?

There is no excuse for telling your athletes to do a certain type of drill if they don't know how to do it right and you can't tell them how to fix any mechanical problems.

I can't emphasize the importance of this fact strongly enough!

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4. Don't do the same warm-up every single day.

Your team will quickly get bored doing the same old warmup. That means the drills will be sloppy, they won't be warmed up correctly, and they set themselves up for injury. Variety is one of the keys to getting the most out of your team.

If the warmup gets monotonous, kids will go through the motions. So you should switch up your warm up routines a few times every season so that athletes don't get bored and lazy before practice even starts.

If they're lethargic from a warmup they've been doing every day for the past two months, what do you really expect to get out of them in their speed workout?

My experience tells me not a whole lot.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

I hope this gives you some ideas on how, where and when to modify your warmup. You can't get more out of your players without making this the first issue you address.

If you are looking for more warm-up exercises to go along with your speed training drills you can see more at Warm up Drills for Athletes

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