The Philosophy of Warm-ups

author - melissa witmer strength and conditioning warm-ups

Your team does a warm-up every time you meet together. It is one of the few things that will be about the same at every practice. Whatever activities you choose for your warm-up, you’ll be putting in a LOT of reps over the course of the season. Let’s make sure we plan a good, effective warm-up routine for our teams so that we can get some cumulative benefit from all of this repetition.

The warm-up serves multiple purposes

1. The warm-up prepares the body and reduces injury risk for the upcoming training session or practice

2. Mobility drills and dynamic stretching in the warm-up help to maintain and possibly improve movement quality and coordination with repetition. This reduces injury risk over the long term.

3. Plyometrics in the warm-up help prime the nervous system for 100% effort in competition or practice

4. Plyometrics and running drills in the warm-up can help to improve running form when done repeatedly and consistently

A well-planned warm-up has three parts

Part 1: Increase blood flow and heart rate

This is what the lap around the field has traditionally been used for. You could do worse, but you could also do better. Start with some low intensity movements in all directions. Instead of a slog around the field, how about low intensity skipping, shuffling, or backwards running?

Part 2: Move joints through a full range of motion

Use a variety of mobility drills and dynamic stretching. Focus especially on the hips and shoulders. Gaining and keeping hip mobility is important for sprint speed and agility. Shoulder mobility is important for throwing performance and injury reduction. Every warm up should include lunges and inchworms or pushups.

Part 3: Prime the nervous system

The goal is to get everything firing in a coordinated manner. It is this portion of the warm up that reduces injury risk for the upcoming practice or workout. Part 3 movements require short bursts of high intensity movement. Exercises should be 10 seconds or less. High knees, butt kicks, and cariocas at high speed with short ground contact times for about 10 yards. Power skips for distance, frog jumps, and five step accelerations are all good.

Check out The Simple Warm-up for a good place to start.