For kids playing sports the temptation is always to get out on the field and score those goals as soon as possible. However, as blooming athletes it is important to show children the importance of understanding why warming your body up before a training session or a match is so important. The discipline to take this on may not be immediately forthcoming, but as any senior play will tell you these are all essential parts of making sure your body is in the best possible condition and ready to execute all of the things that you will need from it. It is important that we address this issue with the children in a frank and honest way, ensuring they understand the importance of taking the time to fully warm up and warm down whilst at the same looking for new and ever more fun and enjoyable ways of making this “serious business” feel like something that children can still get excited about.
The first and foremost reason for ensuring that a proper warm up is done is to decrease the chance of picking up an injury during the following play. Muscles that undergo strenuous exercise that are not properly prepared and starting cold can be strained or worse if they are not prepared. For younger children this may be even as simple as some light jogging, stretching and rotating arms and legs so as to deliver the signal to each body part that they are soon to be called to action. For older children it may be necessary to perform some specific stretches on certain muscles that will be used and achieve a level of preparedness that should see them able to play without ever being held back or injuring under-prepared muscles.
Another reason why a proper warm up should be an essential part of a coach’s thinking before their team plays is that is ensure that their players are able to maximize their abilities. Warming up will increase the likelihood of a player being able to maximize their agility as well as their power and speed. When muscles feel fresher and properly warmed up they are able to perform at their maximum and a player’s performance will naturally benefit. Those players most active during a warm up session and those who take preparation of their bodies seriously will as a result be the best equipped for the immediate playing time and also show a readiness to evolve into that star athlete that we are all hoping to see.
The preparation of one’s body is the main beneficiary of a proper warm up, but equally there are massive benefits to a player’s mindset and mental preparation when a proper warm up is undertaken. The warm up gives players time to focus their mind and consider the events that are about to take place on the field. It gives players a chance to prepare themselves mentally for what their role on the field will mean for the team and any particular process any instructions that they have been given or even anything that they specifically want to focus on themselves. It also allows for the excitement to build in a players mind as they look forward to the game about to place and develop the kind of hunger and desire to play that will help their reactions and attitude during the game infinitely.
A regular warm up before matches and training sessions can also play a very important in a player’s personal and technical development. A warm up can result in a player receiving as many touches during the session as they might do during a match. Depending on the particular exercise being implemented into the warm up, it may well help to increase a player’s confidence and help round their skill set. This time can also help children feel very much part of the team that they are involved with as passing exercises, which are some of the more common used during a warm up, mean that they are regularly passing and interacting with their teammates and sharing in the pre-match pre-training session excitement.
It must also be noted that as essential as a proper warm up before each session of play is, it is as important for a proper warm down at the end of each game and each training session. This will help the children to be aware that they need to prepare their bodies both before they play as well as afterwards, and ensure that they learn the routine that all those hoping to become top sport players and top athletes have to become familiar with. A proper warm down can place less focus on exercises with the ball and just get the team to move altogether with some light jogging and specific stretches if needed. The patience that children will need to show especially after a game to do this will be important, but for a coach it is a must in order to instill that correct mindset into their young players.