This week we delve into warm ups, some people love them, some people hate them. Some want them to be like a full on workout, others are more game oriented and want it to be smaller modified version of the sport itself. Even with kids or new groups, sometimes its just about having fun. As I spoke about in „How to build your system“ from the 3 main sections of your environment Home/Work/Hobby each section should have bring fun and joy into your life. Even with experienced professional teams and athletes you have no idea after a bad match on the weekend, something like a high school game of dodgeball will make even the most serious athletes get their smile and competitive edge back in the right frame of mind for train.
Something that always makes me laugh as a coach is when people want to jog they always run anti-clockwise around the courts (watch for it next time, or try running clockwise and see how weird it feels).
Goals of warm ups
Each training has a goal, each sub-section of training and each exercise have goals, all of which should link together to help player gradually progress and improve through the training. Warming up is the first sub-section of training and the first thing is to ask yourself; what actually do we think warming up does or is it a waste of time? do it really prevent injuries? or is it more about what type of warm ups you do? should they only been taking seriously by professionals athletes and those of us who are getting a little older or are they vitally important for everyone? as usual it is yes with a but. This has often to do with the Dunning-Kruger effect.
What I mean by the Dunning-Kruger effect is we are shown/told something which is new/cool. When we do it we think this is the best thing ever. All without knowing the actual reason for it being used. Like the old saying „if you think everything is a nail; then you will always use a hammer“. Once you start to learn the nuances of when and why something should be used comes the understanding of yes, but.
The simple explanation are that warm ups should prepare (prime) the body for the intensity once training or matches start. Then obviously comes the question, what level of intensity is needed? and which body parts needed to be primed?
For example you don’t take 10-15mins stretching and mobilising before you go for a walk. Even after being in Austria and experiencing the culture of walking on mountains, I have not seen anyone mobilising or activating their muscles before they set of on a 4 hour hike. On the other side I would like to think everyone would do something before they play any sort of sport whether its badminton, basketball, football and ofcourse everyone’s favourite volleyball. This has been conditioned in us from an early age that with sport there has to be a dedicated time and necessity of warming up.
Don’t be afraid on looking too professional or people think you take it too seriously when most people are just there to play and have fun. There is a demand physically from every sport and exercise which has to be somewhat acknowledge within the warming up sub-section of training. So maybe warm up a little more than the Blue team guys in the video below which was a TV advert in the United Kingdom.
Warm ups and their effect on injuries and performance
You will always find a scientific study to support your own ideas. So let’s knock it up a gear and take some meta-analysis research. If you don’t know what a that is, a meta-analysis is a statistical analysis that combines the results of multiple scientific studies.
So lets deal with warm up and injuries, a meta-analysis of 5 studies looking at „Does warming up prevent injury in sport: the evidence from randomised controlled trials?“ All the studies are of high quality (7-9 (mean=8) out of 11) reported sufficient data (quality score>7) on the effects of warming up on reducing injury risk in humans. 3 of the studies found that performing a warm-up prior to performance significantly reduced the injury risk, and the other 2 studies found that warming up was not effective in significantly reducing the number of injuries.
There is insufficient evidence to endorse or discontinue warm-ups prior to physical activity to prevent injury. However, the weight of evidence is in favour of a decreased risk of injury.
This brings us more to coaches thinking. Coaches currency is time! In training the cost of everything is measured in time. So to waste time on something that isn’t effective is something that always needs to be reflected on. 2 such articles from warm ups and time from John Forman Blog and another more overall training time management from Jim Stone consulting.
So what do coaches want as a return on their time/cost investment? Easy Good Performance. Luckily for coaches at all levels researches can much easier agree on the „effects of warming-up on physical performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis„. From 32 studies, all of high quality (6.5-9 [mean = 7.6] of 10) reported sufficient data (quality score >6) on the effects of warming-up on performance improvement. Warm-up was shown to improve performance in 79% of the criterions examined.
Different types of warm ups
Now we need to get into how you can turn yourself into a swiss army knife of warm ups. To do that, we need to build a catalogue of exercises and different types and then the tricky part is knowing which ones to use to make your training mosaic a masterpiece.
As a bonus coaching tip for all you up and coming coaches, start with the end of your training and work backwards with your training plan. Then each exercise and sub-section is a stepping stone towards you goal for the training. In my experience this is much better than starting with your warm up, a good first exercise, not sure what to do in the middle (just throw some random exercise in for 20mins, and then you main exercise for the training at the end).
Athletic warm ups
- speed (running anti-clockwise would be here)
- preparing sport requirements (putting it all together)
Small sided games (sport specific with ball)
- cooperative (same side of net) (both sides of net)
- competitive (1 v 1 / 2 v 2)
- introduction of technique for later progressions of exercises
Games (non-sport specific)
So the next time you start thinking about what to do for warm up, or even if you have to plan a training session; I hope the above exercises combined process of planning will give your body the best chance to be ready to perform.
Last but not least, talking about performing. Then 2nd phase of our TimeOut Beach-Bod workout is now also available. We start with the eccentric phase of training. I hope after a good 2 weeks of building up the tension on your muscles you are ready to start making some strength gains. So click on the Herunterladen link below and get started.