Designing A Worthwhile Warm Up.

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How often have you planned a coaching session but, forgot to address the warm up?

How many times do you skimp on the time allowed for a warm up, as it reduces the time allowed to practise skills?

As a coach you will know the importance of stretching and warming up muscles. This isn't about fitness but about getting your body fit to get fit. In other words, if you don't warm up properly, you will not benefit from the fitness drills and could even pull a muscle or pick up an injury, that stops you from playing in matches.

There has been a big debate over the last few years whether static or dynamic stretching is better. The new train of thought is dynamic stretches are more relevant to game time, as you very rarely have time to stand still during games. By keeping the body moving, whilst completing stretches, also helps work more of the smaller muscles. Imagine you did a static stretch of your Hamstring, you would be training it to react in one way. If you changed your thought process and practised the dynamic version, your body would be pulling in various directions, helping the muscle have more capabilities and become more flexible.

In my opinion the ideal way to warm up is to have both ideas working along side each other. I always get my players to start with a static stretch then gradually progress in to dynamic stretches. I do this because i believe it is important to get the player completing the stretch correctly. If they are running around the field pulling off all sorts of dynamic stretches incorrectly, they may quickly injure themselves. At least this way you can observe from a close environment.

How we use the warm up, vary week to week but, a typical session will look like this:-

We begin by getting the players to gently jog approximately 600m. This roughly twice around a Hockey pitch or twice around the Cricket boundary. Whilst they are doing this the coaches, if not done already, set out two line of cones, 15m apart. We then get the players to form a line on one set of cones facing the other set.

Each stretch starts from the first line and then moves toward the other set. Art this point they gently jog back. They then progress through the various stretches asked of them. We usually work on a stretch pattern like this:-

  • Calf raise
  • Walking calf raise
  • Hamstring stretch
  • Walking hamstring stretch
  • Sumo squats
  • Forward lunges
  • Diagonal lunges
  • Walking high hamstring stretch
  • Butt kicks
  • Knee lift
  • Groin - 'over the gate' outside to in
  • Groin - 'over the gate' inside to out
  • Arm extensions
  • Rotate arms forward
  • Rotate arm backwards.

We then are ready to tackle some fitness and/or skill drills. It doesn't matter what sport you play, you must ensure your players stretch properly. It would be very helpful if the players could manage this part of the session by themselves, to allow you and the other coaches to discuss the finer details of the remainder of the session. Try to vary the way the stretches are applied but, at the end of the day, there are only so many ways to stretch a muscle.

 

 

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