Any game or sport begins with a warm-up and ends with a cool-down. That’s the norm in the world of fitness and sport all over the world. We all know their benefits like the back of our hand, but do we know that they can be counterproductive if they became boring and repetitive?
There is a thin line between discipline and abuse in fitness. Spartan regimen warm-ups may be useful for some time but are bound to fail eventually. Same drills each day and every time can also cause so many other physical and mental problems, so, the need of the hour is to improvise warm-up drills to make them more productive for the team and the individual.
Warm-ups play a crucial role in preparing an athlete for a high-level activity. They not only tune-up the body but also get the athlete into game mode.
High hurdle crossovers, high knees, lunges, leg swings, jogging, and stretching are all common ways to prepare the body for a training session or a game, but when these exercises become routine and boring, they fail to make an athlete focused.
Football, foot volley, dodgeball, flag run, and other modified versions of football have become a hit among many players in recent years who are happy to embrace a fun and exciting way to warm up and build team camaraderie.
One purpose of this unorthodox approach is to keep players from getting bored. It is also to make sure that athletes are both mentally and physically ready to perform. Keeping mind and body fresh also builds a sense of competitive spirit before the start of the real game.
Need to improvise
Day in and day out, players are engaged in serious and competitive game. Things can get boring and pedantic with the same routine — be it warm-up or cool-down, or even strength and conditioning sessions. Room has to be made to improvise and make things interesting. There is a need to think out of the box and to keep the players safe before the competition.
Throughout the course of a long season, changing routines and keeping things fresh can contribute to sustained success. Not only does playing a game like dodgeball provide a way for players to warm up their muscles while having fun, it also gets them into a competitive mindset.
Ensuring that all muscle groups are properly warmed up for all ranges of motion is an art. Competing during the warm up brings in the desired hormones for the game by making a player charged up or relaxed. Making the players enjoy the session can also send a loud and clear message to the opponent. Since each day is different, the strength-and-conditioning coach needs to be mindful in understanding the team dynamics, and the individual needs to prepare players to be switched on before the game. Similarly, cool-downs, too, need to be relaxed but organised, in allowing the players their space at the end of the day.
In my experience, the dynamics of warm-ups keep on changing and evolving. New protocols are added as per the team and skill. On some days, for some reasons, players skip warm-ups to hone their specific skills for the contest. And they perform well.
At the end of the day, it’s all about adaptation to the specific need of the players.
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