Being a competitive, travel softball player for the vast majority of my life, I grew up with the importance of warm-ups drilled into my head. Injuries, better play, and also, mental readiness, were all a part of the disciplined drills that my team would run before practice or game time begun.
And that’s for every sport, whether it’s an individual or team experience. A well-planned and thorough warm-up is an essential part of being a knowledgeable, serious athlete. Although it seems to have become a universally accepted rule throughout the sports world, there are still players – especially our young ones – that feel as though they’re able to skip these practices. They’re forging ahead with play and causing unnecessary injuries and mistakes.
Today, we’re quickly breaking down the importance of warm-ups. We’re talking about what they are, what happens to the body when you do (and don’t), and throwing in some good examples of warm-ups to try out on your own as well. So, if there are any great debates about the necessity behind these drills and why coaches are having players to the court, the field, the rink, the track, or anywhere else game time takes place 30 minutes before that first whistle is blown, we’ve got the evidence below.
What Is A Warm Up?
The right kind of warm-up will prepare your body for the work you’re about to do. And that work could be as a running back in a football game or a 3-mile run around the neighborhood. It’s important to get your muscles “warmed” and ready for the activity ahead. According to the Boston Herald, a “warm-up is a low-level activity which should be completed prior to stretching and more strenuous exercise.”
Jogging around the field, playing catch, skills involving agility, swinging a bat, soft kicks, all of these small exercises can and are part of an athlete’s warm up.
Examples of Good Warm-Ups
- Easy jog (around the field, track, etc)
- High-Knee Run
- Butt Kickers
- Jumping jacks
- Side, Back, Front Shuffles
- Dynamic Stretches
What Happens When You Warm-Up?
The purpose for a warm-up is to ready the body for the sport or exercise that it’s about to participate in, and as we learned from The Cleveland Clinic, it can directly hinder or benefit an athlete’s performance.
These warm-up exercises will raise the body temperature and muscle temperature in preparation. Instead of starting out “full speed ahead” your warm-up period will gradually increase the demand on all parts of the body so everything from the respiratory system to the nervous system is able to accommodate the play.
In a review done for the University of Wyoming’s Wyoming Scholars Repository, it was concluded that “a structured dynamic warm-up led by an adult is the most beneficial warm-up for preventing adolescent injuries.” And according to KidsHealth.org, this time will also increase the flow of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles as well.
The Benefits of Warming Up Before Play:
- Risk of injury is reduced
- Athletic performance is improved
- Improves reaction time and speed
- Reduce risk of muscle soreness
- Increased mental readiness