Whether you’re preparing for a game, practice, or conditioning session, every bout of activity should start with an adequate warm-up because the way you prepare your body can help or hurt your performance. While it may be more convenient to go straight from the car to the court, taking some time to mobilize, lengthen, and activate the right tissues can go a long way in enhancing your performance and reducing your chances of injury.
What are The Benefits of a Good Warm-Up?
A good warm-up will allow an athlete to increase blood flow, raise their heart rate, and prepare the nervous system for intense, powerful movements. By properly warming up the body, athletes can achieve greater outputs, improve neural sequencing, gain focus, and reduce chances for injury. Warm-ups enhance the pliability and extensibility of soft tissues and allow your muscles to function together at a higher level than when relaxed.
How Exactly Do Warm-Ups Help?
Warm-ups use basic human movements and preparatory exercises to take joints through a full range of motion prior to activity, where the cardiovascular, muscular, and skeletal demands will be much greater. These ranges may be used much faster or with much greater force. The movements in a dynamic warm-up should reflect the patterns and muscles that will dominate the training or competition. At the end of the warm-up, the athlete’s heart rate should be elevated, with a light sweat beginning to occur.
The warm-up should progress from general to specific when working through a warm-up prior to practice or a game. General movements could include jumping rope or a light jog, butt kicks, and A-skipping. This general portion of the warm-up should include a blend of dynamic movements, mobility exercises, and stretches. As the warm-up progresses in specificity, it will also increase in intensity, moving gradually from low-intensity movements to moderate or, at times, high-intensity movements.
Example Volleyball Warm-Up
For example, before a volleyball game, a sport that often requires explosive jumping with rotation from the upper body, the reverse lunge with rotation would be a suitable warm-up exercise. Keep in mind the goal here is to prepare and excite the body to perform, not annihilate it to the point where you are too tired to perform at a high level. Below is a sample pre-practice or pregame general warm-up for athletes that can be completed with limited space. After a warm-up like this is performed, the athlete would immediately transition into a more specific movement. Someone moving into basketball practice could follow this with dribbling, passing, or shooting warm-ups specific to basketball before moving into full contact drills or scrimmaging. Prepare to win by starting all training and competitions with a warm-up, and your body will indeed thank you.
Sample In-Place Warm-Ups for Practice or Games:
Knee hugs x 5 each side
Quad Pulls x 5 each side
Inchworms x 5
FWD Lunge w/ Overhead Reach x 5 each side
Lateral Lunge + Knee Cradle x 5 each side
High Knees x 15 seconds
Butt Kicks x 15 seconds
Scorpions x 5 each side each way
Forward Leg Swings x 5 each side
Lateral Leg Swings x 5 per side
Snap Downs x 5
Heidens x 5 each side
Line Hops x 10 secs
Lateral Line Hops x 10 secs
Double Vertical Jump & Stick x 5