Warm-up. Traditional static stretching.
As a player, I used to hate it. As a coach, I grew to hate it even more. Static stretching.
I don’t like the idea of forcing “cold” muscles to stretch. I know I half-assed static stretching back in the day just as the current generation of players half-ass through their static stretching regimens.
I prefer functional flexibility. I prefer a dynamic type of warm-up routine.
Besides incrementally increasing the range of motion of primary and secondary muscle groups as they are being functionally used, there is another very important benefit to dynamic warm-up, it improves athleticism. An area often overlooked factor by sports coaches at the high school level is the value of athletic development.
I’ve ranted on this subject on many occasions, but it is my belief the number one duty of a high school sports coach is to see the potential in a kid and find a way to help that kid achieve his or her potential. This duty is beyond schemes, strategy, play calling, depth charts, etc.
Developing athletes is job numero uno and when I coached, we found the dynamic warm-up routine to be a great opportunity for us to squeeze the most out of the first ten or fifteen minutes of every workout, every practice, and every contest. We used a total body, functional range of motion series of movements to prepare the muscles, stretch the muscles, and teach the muscles how to move to become a more mobile athlete.
- High Knee
High Knee Skip
Carioca with a Twist
Zig Zag Runs
Backward Long Stride
Flip Flop Hops
Sprints (Start on a verbal or visual signal)
- 4 – 20-yard sprints (2-right foot start, 2-left foot start)
4 – 10-yard sprints (2-right foot start, 2-left foot start)
4 – 5-yard sprints (2-right foot start, 2-left foot start)
How effective was it?
Well, in my nine football seasons and almost as many baseball seasons, we had, at most, five straight-out pulled muscle injuries over the time frame. Several coaches have also used the routine for their basketball programs with similar results.
In short, it works. Kids get better. Kids stay healthier. Kid perform at higher level.
It’s not easy to implement a change in philosophy in sports. Sports people are just as bad, or worse, than the general public when it comes to an aversion to change. Our situation was no different. But with science and research and great, forward-thinking head coaches who took the risk and allowed this dynamic warm-up philosophy, we were able to make this a vital part of our program operations.
The proof was in the pudding. We used the first 10-15 minutes of practice to develop better athletes and prepare our bodies for the physical demands we put them through. It was an important factor in developing the “human weapons” we needed to complete.
I coach with the philosophy, “I will put my athletes up against your athletes any day of the week”. We may not always win, but we will leave our mark on the minds and bodies of our opponents every single time we step on a field to compete.
Success starts with the basics
Kids getting better.
Kids getting healthier.
Kids performing at a higher level.