One of the most common questions performance coaches get asked is how to properly warm up. The reason why this is such a common question is because there are countless ways to warm up before practice, training or matches. One of the easiest answers to give when asked how to warm-up is the law of specificity. The warm-up should mimic the movements that are about to be performed during the workout, and prepare the body for such movements. This typically can include some sort of core activation, dynamic stretching, dynamic movement, and nervous system activation. The whys behind a warm-up are simple and obvious; engaging in high intense work while the body is cold and unprepared can result in injury and subpar performance.
Once we have designed a warm up for the many youth soccer teams we work with, we ask the athletes themselves to implement it. This is vastly important for numerous reasons; below we’ve listed four:
1.) To be successful you’ve got to be a self-starter
This doesn’t just apply to youth soccer, but to life in general. If you wait around for someone else to get you started, you are going to fall behind, and most likely fail. All successful teams CANT WAIT to get better. They don’t view training and practice as an obligation, but as another chance to get better. These athletes start the warm up on their own because they want to start getting better today. They don’t wait for someone else to do it for them.
2.) A Leader will arise!
Teams and groups need leaders. They need members of the team, not the coach or trainer, to lead by example and keep others accountable. This is another reason why we ask teams to run their own workouts. Someone must step up and ‘lead the warm up’. A team needs a leader to rise to the occasion.
3.) Establish a routine
It’s very important to get your mind right prior to a practice, workout, or game. Our goal is to give the athletes a scientific and organized warm-up that they can use as a routine to not only get their bodies ready for work, but also their minds. Having this routine at the beginning of a workout can build confidence that they are indeed ready for the demands of the day.
4.) A united team is a strong team
Think about the definition of unity; being united or joined as a whole. Watching our youth teams warm up is also the definition of unity. All members know how to go through the warm up like the back of their hand. They could do it in their sleep. First off, all of the athletes are moving in harmony, fully synchronized. Second, they are all moving in unity on their own, without any commands or instruction. These teams appear professional, strong, and united.
We do recommend with younger teams and large groups to have the coach lead the warm up.