A Waste of Time?
There are many athletes that view the warm up as a waste of time. It’s unfortunate that they view it this way. They obviously don’t understand the true benefits of a properly designed and performed warm up.
So what are the benefits?
1. Increased Flexibility & Mobility - A good warm up can help to improve an athletes flexibility. Of course this is important for the workout that is about to be undertaken, but it’s also important as part of long term flexibility development. If an athlete doesn’t take part in activities that increase flexibility, they will lose it. This includes stretching post-workout and warming up pre-workout.
2. Improved Performance - Warming up helps to increase muscle temperature, tissue flexibility, heart rate, and breathing rate. All of these physiological responses to a warm up are meant to get your body ready for exercise. It’s kind of like taking time to warm up your car on a cold morning. Can you just hop in your car and drive off? Yes. Is it going to work as well when you do that? No. The same can be said for your body.
3. Decreased Injury Risk – Every time an athlete trains, practices, or competes, there is a chance of an injury. A warm up is the first thing that an athlete can do to decrease this risk. The primary reasons behind this are discussed in #1 and #2 above.
4. Improved Mental Focus – How focused are you without a little effort to forget the stresses that filled your day? After dealing with customers, co-workers, emails, phone calls, traffic, family, etc, most of us are a little bit rattled and unfocused. Even though many of our athletes may have different stresses, do you think that it’s much different for them? Even teens have school, jobs, family issues, and social issues. A warm up helps them to get focused. It can help them to forget the issues they faced during the day and help them to remember why they are training. If the workout is in the AM, the warm up can help to wake them up a little bit. This can lead to improved performance and attitude.
While it’s important to take your athletes through a warm up, it’s also important to be able to tell them why they need to do one. That can help them to give better effort during the warm up instead of just going through the motions.