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Welcome to the 3rd installment of the Coach's Desk, this week we will be looking at a how to plan an effective warm-up. Be sure to read the full article as we provide you with a complete warm-up example you can do with your team.
The warm-up is one of the most important but often overlooked components of a session. Most coaches tend to solely focus on the technical and tactical aspects when planning a session with very little if any, thought put towards the warm-up. Plan a good warm-up and you'll find your players to be engaged, focused and physically ready for the session. If your warm-up is an afterthought watch your players become easily distracted, apathetic and far more susceptible to injury.
A proper warm-up takes up to 30 minutes, depending on the age and level of your group. Your warm up must must consist of more than "laps." Far too often the coach sends the players for two laps of the entire field, which involves no creativity and does not allow the players to come in motivated to play once completed. An effective team warm-up establishes a pattern or routine for the players to follow given the right direction from the coach. At the start of the season the players will be required to learn from the coach how they are expected to warm-up and prepare themselves for training. Once this pattern is established, it is up to the coach to identify a team leader so that each practice or training session the players will follow the guidance of the team leader and follow them through the warm-up procedure.
The purpose of the warm-up is not to tire your players out but rather to raise the body temperature of the athletes to better prepare their muscles, ligaments and tendons for vigorous physical activity. Therefore, you will start with a series of exercises, which aim to increase the athletes core temperature. To do this have the athlete's perform movements such as walking lunges, high knees, but kicks, side-shuffles, etc. The key is to have the players work across an area that is up to 30 meters wide and ask them to perform exercises moving forwards across this distance, while slowly jogging back to the starting point as a group.
If you would like to add jogging to the warm-up, there is nothing wrong with asking the team to take a slow jog for 10+ minutes prior to the start of the session. HAve a team leader take the players through the jog and make sure it is completed by start of the session. HAving it completed at the start of the session this will save valuable practice time and help prepare your athletes for the session.
Take a look at the following sample warm up sequences you can use to engage your athletes in the warm up (without the ball).
Once the players have performed the physical routine without the ball, it is then up to the coach to establish a second portion of the warm-up using the ball. Which may come in the form of light passing, dribbling, ball juggling and so on. If you are working with young players, there is nearly always a link between the content of the warm-up phase (i.e. with the ball) and the objectives set for the remainder of the session.
Importantly, the warm up has to be progressive, with an initial period of running and varied movement, with or without the ball, and at a slow to moderate tempo to stimulate the body's organs and systems.
You will find this and many more examples of effective warm-ups in the Coaches Guide. Search, select and organize your warm-up from the extensive database of warm up activities in the Coaches Guide. Give your players the edge and help them properly prepare for each session. After all it's about giving your team the best opportunity to succeed and that's what planning a proper warm-up will do.
Thanks for joining us this week, Tune in next week when we will be looking at the effective techniques for planning the technical phase.