It doesn’t matter if you have a dancer on your hands or an up-and-coming star pitcher for the middle school baseball team, every kid athlete needs to grow up knowing how to warm up correctly. The time before practice and the game is a necessity for all – especially when it comes to safety – but it’s even more important for changing and developing bodies.
Coaches and parents aren’t in the business for hurting athletic performance before it even reaches its peak and not participating in a well-rounded warm-up routine will hinder that process. A simple stretch or two just won’t cut it. Instead, try incorporating any one of these ideas we’ve outlined for you below. Something as simple as jumping jacks really can get the blood pumping and the joints ready for tournament time.
12 Great Warm Up Ideas for Kids (For All Sports!)
Start out easy and by getting the blood slowly pumping throughout the body. Having the kids stand with their feet shoulder-length width apart, allow them to extend their arms straight out on their sides. Then model how to create small circles in the air using your arms. Continue the motion for 10 seconds at a time per rep.
This is a fantastic and dynamic exercise for warming up your entire body and getting your heart ready for the game. Basically, this is just running backward. But, it’s important that one has his/her elbows bent and swinging back and forth to guide momentum. Use this as apart of the agility lineup.
Yes, the kiddos can do squats – just without the weights. With feet shoulders’ width apart, have them dip deep into their knees as if they’re trying to sit on an invisible box (they’ll love the exercise if you frame it like that, trust us). Knees cannot go past the toes and only do about five of these per set for younger athletes.
If you tell the young ones that they’re about to do “butt kicks” you may get a giggle – but it’s certainly a fun and effective way to warm up. Basically, you’ll have them jog in place, with the goal being to stretch their legs enough to actually kick their bottom with their heel.
Another really easy and effective way to start getting their blood pumping is to add some slow jogs to their warm-up routine. In fact, this is the best way to start off the day’s practice or prep for the big game. A couple laps around the field or the court will do the trick.
Red Light, Green Light
For the youngest of athletes, a game may be what’s needed and Red Light, Green Light is the perfect way to start them off on the right foot. This is a really short game that involves a lot of great movement. Have the kiddos line up, facing the coach, and then you (or the coach) tell them when the light is green (which means to begin jogging) and then when the light is red (which means to stop).
Jump rope may not be the most practical for game day warm-ups but it’s perfect for days in the gym. Add jump rope to your warm-up routine or as an extra bout of cardio for circuits with older kids. Reps depend on the age of the athlete, but overall this is a fun and effective way to get joints warm and the heart prepped for playtime.
These are really easy and a great way to stretch the legs before any heavy exercise or gameplay begins (and helps to prevent injury). You’ll have the kids stand with their hands on their hips. Beginning with one leg, they will swing the leg forward and back – like a slow pendulum. They can increase the height of the swing gradually and as the hip joints become warmer.
These can be really helpful too and introducing younger athletes to these exercises can help them master the form before they’re expected to ace it. All you do here is (model it for them if you can) step and touch your back knee to the floor. Then repeat with the other leg. Again, like with squats, make sure your knee doesn’t extend past the toes. Around 5-6 lunges per round is a good starting place.
Side shuffles are the perfect addition to an agility warm-up routine. First, have your athletes stand with their feet hip-length apart with slightly bents knees. They will then take a few side steps to the right and touch their right toe – repeat on both sides while increasing the speed.
Jumping jacks are a classic warm-up exercise. Nearly all the kiddos can do them and there’s no equipment needed to make them happen. Starting with the feet together, you’ll have the young ones jump while moving both hands above their head – forming a slight “X” – and coming back down. Then repeat!
Short Relay Race
Here’s another quick game you can play to get the team ready for action. This is a good thing to do after some jogging and stretching have already taken place. Pair off into two teams and create a short relay race. Whoever wins has to shag balls after batting practice is over.