Warm-Up: Beyond the Body

The warm-up: It’s something that athletes have been doing since they first signed up for youth sports. We can all think back to the arm-swings we would do before little-league games, or the high-knees before that big town-league football game.

As athletes ascend the ranks from youth sports to high school, college any beyond, the warm ups get more structured and the drills may become more advanced, but the objective remains the same: get the body ready for what is about to go down.

There have been many great coaches and researchers to develop systems and exact warm up protocols preparing the body for the rigors of upcoming practice or competition. In fact, we at RYPT have recently shared our system with the rest of the world (more on that here).

One of the most significant observations I have made through years of coaching athletes however, is that the warm-up serves a much larger purpose than just preparing the bodies of our athletes.

This time designated as “warm-up” is an opportunity for coaches to establish the expectations for the type of energy and attitude our athletes are to bring throughout the entirety of the training session. How much JUICE do they need to bring today? (all of it, obviously)

It is a chance to shift the focus of our athlete’s minds to the present moment. Athletes that can focus on being present and handling the task at hand will be the athletes that come closest to reaching their highest potential.

Most importantly, the “warm-up” is the time when athletes come together to form a team. No matter what city an athlete grew up in, sport they play, or school they play for, once the warm-up starts, they are now a part of something larger than themselves: the team. They are responsible for creating the type of training environment that elevates not only their own performance, but the performance of their entire team.

So, the next time you are designing that beautiful warm-up covering all the movement categories, energy systems and cardinal planes ask yourself this:

“How can I best prepare this team physically, mentally and emotionally to be at their best today?”

To optimally prepare our athletes for peak performance, each of those three categories deserves our respect and attention.