The Warm-up and Cool Down

The two key warm-up goals are to:

-Prepare the athletes specifically for the training/competition to follow, both mentally and physically.

-Minimize the risk of injury.

The two basic types of stretching are:

Dynamic Stretching (basically this is stretching by moving the joints through a range of motion.  Example; swinging arms around in big circles, this is stretching the shoulder joints by moving through the full range of motion).

-Static Stretching (more of the traditional type stretches.  Here the muscle is stretched, however, it is not moved through a range of motion.  Example; placing one arm across the body and pulling it towards the body, this is stretching the shoulder but only in one direction).

As a general rule it is best to use dynamic stretching before training/competition.  Use static stretching after  training/competition.

The best way to prepare for training/competition is to get the body mirroring as many of the movements that are to be performed in the upcoming activity.  For example; if training for baseball/softball , swinging arms in circles, then throwing a ball with low intensity, gradually increasing to a higher intensity would get a player ready to throw a ball in a game situation.  Of course this would only be one component of the warm-up.

Many movements will crossover from sport to sport, such as sprinting and changing directions.  However, some movements will be more sport specific, such as hitting a baseball.  When making a warm-up session be creative and attempt to use dynamic stretches integrated into actions that mirror the movements that will be performed in that particular sport.

A soccer warm-up that many of you have seen, or even performed;  is one where the kids stand in a line and then have a shot at goal when they get to the front of the line.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t really prepare the kids for a realistic game situation.   How many times in a game will the kids be standing still in a line, then run to strike a ball that has been placed conveniently in front of them? Probably never.  A more realistic version of this would be to have the kids make a pass to a partner, receive the ball back, and then have a shot.  This is closer to a game situation and would prepare them more for the upcoming competition.

There are many websites full of different warmup drills, however, with a little bit of thinking and creatively its possible to come up with a perfectly good warmup, just follow the basic principles.  5-10 minutes doing each of the below will have your team ready to play!!!

1) Mirror the movements that will occur in the game, start slowly and gradually increase the intensity (get the blood flowing).

2) Use dynamic stretching for most of your stretches (this can be integrated into mirroring of movements).

3) Put kids in similar situations that they will encounter in the game itself.

The Cool Down

Unfortunately, many times after a game there is no time to get a good cool down stretch.  Kids finish the game and leave.  A good habit is to get the team performing a quick stretching routine after the conclusion of the training/competition session.  Here it is best to spend about 2 minutes performing a slow jog followed by 10 minutes of static stretching, focusing mainly on the major muscle groups.