huddle banner

The New School Warm-up

by Tim Morrill


A quality warm up should simply prepare the body for the work to follow.  What is to follow? A match of our beautiful, dynamic sport that involves sprinting, jumping, throwing, marking and changing direction...

Ok, so how do we prepare for all that? 

The New School Warm Up:

Pros: The most effective way to prepare the body to work out

Cons: Takes a relatively long time, requires tools, is not flashy

Here are all the components, in order:

  • Roll (foam roll, lacrosse ball, stick) to decrease tissue density. SUPER IMPORTANT!
  • Static stretch to increase tissue length
    • Note, in Ultimate, the hip may be the single most important area to stretch.  Think about the hips as having four quadrants and makes sure to hit them all!  Partner stretches work great. 
      • Inside Hip or Groin: Partner Seated Split Stretch
      • Outside Hip or Gluts: Chest to Shin Stretch
      • Front Side Hip or Hip Flexors: Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
      • Backside Hip or Hamstring Group: Partner Hamstring Stretch

  • Mobilize or increase range of motion of a joint. Pay lots of attention to ankle, hip and thoracic spine.
  • Activate (mini-bands, stretch bands) or "turn on" some smaller yet important muscles (i.e. glut medius, rhomboids)
  • Reinforce patterns seen in sport (sprinting, jumping, and cutting and lateral movement mechanics)

What this accomplishes?  We have rubbed out the bumpy dense pieces of tissue to prepare them to be lengthened (rolling). We have lengthened the tissue (stretching) and mobilized the joints to allow for greater range of motion. We have activated important muscles and trained our neuromuscular system to recognize and replicate patterns we may encounter in the game.  We are warm, supple, and moving well.  We are ready to jam.

The Old School warm up:

Pros: Time efficient, requires no tools

Cons: Fails to address tissue density, tissue length and activation

The "new era" warm up is the most effective way to prepare the body for exercise.  Though to some, it may seem unpractical…

"Do you really expect me to bring my foam roller and stretch bands to the field and spend 20 minutes rolling and static stretching before I play?" 

If you want to perform at the highest possible level, Yes.

"Whatever, I am just going to take my team through some traditional cone to cone dynamic warm ups"

That is fine. Though conventional cone to cone style team warm ups may not be the most effective means of warm up, they do have benefits. For example, it does create team chemistry. Teams look organized and sometimes intimidating if everyone on the team is on the same page as they go through all the dynamic patterns. Also, it may be the best way to warm up when in a crunch for time.

I have accepted that until athletes become more educated, the majority of teams will warm up this way no matter how much time is available. Therefore, here are a few tips if you chose this route:

  • Reinforce fundamental linear running/ jump mechanics. i.e.   A March, Sprinters Skip, High Knee Run, Starts, Transition Jog to Back pedal to Jog, Approach Step Single Leg Jump – Approach Step Double Leg Jump
  • Reinforce fundamental cutting/ lateral movement patterns. i.e. Shuffle, "In- Out-In" Cut ,  Jab Step with Serpentine Pattern, Lateral Skip, Lateral Cross Over Skip, Lateral Bounding to Sprint
  • Use lunge variations. i.e. Spiderman Lunge, Cross Over Lunge, Opposite Elbow to Opposite Ankle Lunge
  • Use groin openers. i.e. Squat and Pivot, Squat Hops, Side Squat to Side Shuffle
  • Pay special attention to hamstrings (especially when deep into tournaments) and hit them from all angles. i.e. Frankenstein, Walking Toe Touch, Single Leg Reach, Inch Worm
  • Don’t forget to Hit Upper Body. i.e. Trunk Twists, Arm Circles, Windmills
  • Be Creative! Combine movements together to add variety. Ie. Lateral Shuffles with Arm Circles, Push Up to Inchworm to Reach for the Sky, Long Lunge to Hip-up to Tall Lunge and Twist
  • Have private time. Every "body" is different. After your warm ups, allow time to each player to handle individual issues.  You should know your body well enough to know what you need to feel just perfect.  Perhaps it is some additional hamstring stretches or using "the stick" on a tight piece of tissue.

In sum, Ultimate is an extremely demanding sport.  In order to ensure longevity, remain injury free and perform at the highest possible level we must spend time rolling and stretching (decreasing density, increasing length) and taking care of our individual issues.  Though foam rolling and static stretching may take time, cause relative discomfort and not look very intimidating, they are essential. And yes, static stretching before exercise is perfectly fine, despite what you may have heard.

Circumstances may not always allow this prior to every game.  If this is the case, use an old school warm up to increasing body temperature, reinforces patterns and gets you feeling relatively loose. 

I have a feeling we are going to be seeing a lot more players rolling around on cylinders or foam and PVC at tournaments.  Others may see that guy and think "what the heck is he doing rolling on the ground, he looks silly" I agree it may a little silly at times but as a strength coach, I love it. 

When I see it I think "now, there is an educated athlete, good for him!"

Perhaps that should be you.

Bottom Line: high level educated warm up = high level play


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




  • Issues

  • Features

  • Authors

  • About

      huddle issue034   huddle issue033   huddle issue032   huddle issue031   huddle issue030  
      huddle issue029   huddle issue028   huddle issue027   huddle issue026   huddle issue025  
      huddle issue024   huddle issue023   huddle issue022   huddle issue021   huddle issue020  
      huddle issue019   huddle issue018   huddle issue017   huddle issue016   huddle issue015  
      huddle issue014   huddle issue013   huddle issue012   huddle issue011   huddle issue010  
      huddle issue009   huddle issue008   huddle issue007   huddle issue006   huddle issue005  
      huddle issue004   huddle issue003   huddle issue002   huddle issue001      
      huddle feature026   huddle feature025   huddle feature024   huddle feature023   huddle feature022  
      huddle feature021   huddle feature020   huddle feature019   huddle feature018   huddle feature017  
      huddle feature016   huddle feature015   huddle feature014   huddle feature013   huddle feature012  
      huddle feature011   huddle feature010   huddle feature009   huddle feature008   huddle feature007  
      huddle feature006   huddle feature005   huddle feature004   huddle feature003   huddle feature002  
      huddle feature001                  


  • Authors

  • About / Get Involved