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Routine Need Not Mean Redundant

by Matt Mackey


You show up early.

Your team has a routine: a slow jog to get the blood flowing, the usual dynamic warm-up routine. From there, you move into the handful of drills you always do, working out the kinks, getting ready for prime time. Sound like the warm-up you know and love?

While this is the current paradigm, I believe there's a lot of room for continued innovation. Dynamic (active) warm-ups have become the norm over the past decade, but the next step is to make your dynamic warm-up more...dynamic.

Progression is a fundamental component of any training program – add weight. Do more reps. Work on less rest. Why, then, do we keep the same old tired warm-up routine? Eric Cressey, a forward thinker in athletic development, changes up the mobility drills his athletes do to warm-up on a weekly basis.

I'm not suggesting that you go quite that far. However, given that most teams have at least one player who's really into fitness, you can task this person with leading your warm-up and mixing it up every so often (or if you have a couple, let them each audition their ideas in turn on the team). Okay, you still want stability and familiarity for your pre-game warm-up; make things more routine over a couple weeks' practices before the tournament.

Routine is great in that it lightens the cognitive load of what you’re doing, allowing you to focus on your mental game, execution, and the big picture, rather than losing the forest of a tournament for the trees of how to place your feet. However, when it comes to your body, routine breeds stagnancy. Yes, dynamic warm-ups are better than static stretches after the long jog. However, by doing the exact same knee pick-ups and butt-kick runs over and over again, your body will fall into a rut, forgetting the whole wide range of motion it hasn't been exploring otherwise, and you’ll be leaving some of your still-dormant athleticism on the table when you step onto the field.

Some examples and ideas for you:

  • Stretching the hips: One of the few areas that needs actual stretching in most. You can do this with a Warrior Stretch if you like; more dynamic forms include the rocking rectus femoris stretch, or even a walking lunge with overhead reach.
  • Gluteal activation: This is something I don't see teams doing much of at all, much less progressing in. Start with the cook hip lift or bilateral glute bridgesomewhere between loosening up the hips but before extended lunging or build-up runs. Progress to a one-foot-elevated glute bridge to really get your butt working for you.
  • Other hip mobility drills allow you to really work a lot of variety in; pick a couple and rotate which you do as you go.
  • Hamstring work
  • Ankle mobility
  • Upper body and core warm-up: There are options here too. You can work it in to the lower body work (think about adding a T push-up or arm- or foot-elevated planks to add complexity at the bottom of lunges or inchworms; consider adding overhead reaches from the bottom position of any of the lunge variations).
  • This list is by no means exhaustive. think about the many different body-weight exercises you can do for training, cut back from the normal workout volume, try new combinations, and turn them into a warm-up that limbers you up and continues to challenge your body on a daily basis. Like many changes, the prospect can seem more daunting than the reality. Start with what you can manage - mixing up the various lunges, trying a new exercise each week and rotating out one you’ve become too accustomed too.

    There’s an ever-growing world of possibility that exists out there when it comes to fitness. A "warm-up" can be so much more than just getting the blood flowing!

    What's more, the bodily work is perhaps the easier component of your team’s preparation to work on. Here's a thought exercise for you: while there's plenty of room to add a degree of planning and progression to the physical warm-up, there's even MORE potential for you to continually challenge your team with a progression of the drills and skills you do. As your team continues to gel and hone skills over the season, is it enough simply to run your warm-ups and drills the same way as always, or can you nudge yourself to greater heights with more modifications?


huddle issue033

Tue June 28th, 2011

Preparing for the Game at Hand
by Max Cook

Get Your Team on One Page
by Greg Husak

Routine Need Not Mean Redundant
by Matt Mackey

The New School Warm-up
by Tim Morrill

Find What Works For Your Team
by Chelsea Putnam

Three Warm-Up Fundamentals
by Miranda Roth

Team Pregame Warm-Up Routines
by John Sandahl

Shift Your Focus
by Melissa Witmer

We Will Laugh
by Ben Wiggins




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