Written by Kamila Czajka (AWF Wroclaw), Grzegorz Zurek (AWF Wroclaw) and Jacek Stodółka (AZS AWF Wrocław) / Poland
The basic element that occurs at the beginning of the training sessions is a warm-up. We all know the main purposes and importance of the warm-up. Have you ever thought that you, as coach, create a positive atmosphere already during the first minutes of the training sessions? Why not use the warm-up to involve the young athletes and build the team spirit together?
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The main aim of this blog is to encourage an innovative look at the warm-up as part of training. In addition to properly conducted exercises preparing the body for effort, there should also be room for team building activities, which is increasingly emphasized as a key factor in good training practices [more in the blog: Social bonding and team building].
What are the benefits of a good warm-up?
We asked experienced trainers what the benefits of a good warm-up are. Here are their statements:
„A proper warm-up is a calm start and a progressive increase in intensity. This is a series of repetitive exercises. I start the warm-up with exercises for the upper limbs, then the lower limbs and the trunk. At the end of the warm-up, I apply a fun game that children choose, or I propose one.„Coach Magdalena, age 39; athletics
„A good warm-up, I think is:Coach Michael, age 32; fencing
1. preparing the body for the effort, increasing its capacity,
2. preventing injuries,
3. preparing mentally for competition and stimulating the nervous system accordingly.“
Don’t forget about education aspect!
A good coach should strive to teach young athletes the right structure of the warm-up and the right exercise technique in the right order. If children are taught from an early age how to warm up properly before physical activity, this will become their good habit.
Did you know that a properly conducted warm-up increases muscle temperature by 2-4°C, which increases muscle strength up to 15-20%?
What should a good warm-up look like?
Theoretical knowledge of many aspects of a good warm-up is an important background for every coach. However, in order to achieve success in the form of full involvement of young athletes in the warm-up, we needed to see their point of view.
We asked them a question: What should a good warm-up look like? Here are the answers we got:
„A good warm-up warms up the muscles before further training so that no injuries happen. A good warm-up is one in which I perform basic technical exercises in a certain order. I like to do them by myself, not in pairs or teams because I am satisfied that I can do them really well and precisely. I also like the warm-up to be fun, it’s energetic, stimulating and fun”(Zuzia, 11 / athletics)
„A good warm-up is a lot of different exercises that get us started. A good warm-up should start with some fun and not be too long”.(Filip, 11 years old / footbal)
„A good warm-up is a carefully repeated exercise in which muscles work fast and become flexible. The warm-up is done to warm up the muscles so that no injury happens. A good warm-up has some time for a game. The game is important and necessary for children, and it gives them joy and freedom of action in a group”.(Max, 13 years old / fencing)
From the statements of young athletes, it can be concluded that they have knowledge about the structure of the warm-up, its basic importance for training. They fully accept the scheduled exercises in the warm-up, but they also expect to have fun, which is an element giving them joy and freedom of movement.
New in coaching practices: Warm-up and team building
How to get young athletes fully involved in the warm-up? The key may seem to be to arouse their internal motivation both to perform the exercises and to cooperate in the team. How to achieve these goals? The knowledge of team building can help; it requires adding theoretical and practical activities to the warm-up.
Examples of theoretical activities for coaches:
- Awakening of internal motivation
- Carry out conversations aimed at increasing involvement in the warm-up. Ask questions:
- Why do we warm-up?
- Why do we do it together?
- What are the benefits of teamwork?
It is best to do it as part of the introduction to the training – before the warm-up.
Practical tips for coach on team building during the warm-up:
- Add a game or task in the warm-up that will bring the members of the group closer together. Praise or encouragement for good cooperation will have a positive effect on the willingness to co-create a team, and act in its favour through involvement in the tasks performed.
- To build trust in the team members, include warm-up tasks like exercises in pairs, smaller and larger groups. Change the members of the pairs and groups where the exercises are performed during the warm-up.
- Arrange for the children to wear sports clothes with the club logo or make sure that the participants in the sports activities are dressed in the same way, which will cause:
- Creation of a bond and feeling of being part of the team.
- Elimination of socio-economic disparities among children, giving everyone an equal opportunity to participate in sport.
- Improving the quality and effectiveness of training.
- Identify people in the group who want to be leaders, and assign them additional tasks. Show them their place in the team – explain to the group what their role in the team will be.
- If you have observed weaker people in the group (with a lower level of motor skills or communication skills), take appropriate actions to help them to fully function in the team, e.g.:
- Talk about the fact that everyone is an important part of the team.
- Assign the person a task/tasks for which he or she will be responsible.
- As a coach, set a good example and get actively involved in the warm-up by doing the tasks together with the group. This will translate into a stronger sense of community and increase the internal motivation of the young athletes to become more involved in the tasks performed during the warm-up.
Kamila works as an Assistant Professor at the University School of Physical Education in Wroclaw (Poland) and enjoys giving lectures and practical classes, especially on the Anatomy of the motor system and human motor skills. She is interested in physical activity and a healthy lifestyle. She loves spending her free time actively – she runs and swims a lot, skis and skates in the winter season.
Grzegorz is a Professor at the University School of Physical Education in Wroclaw (Poland). He conducts classes in mental training, neuroscience and human anatomy. He is interested in contemporary history and socio-economic changes in the world; he is physically active, likes swimming and cycling.
Jacek works as professor at the University School of Physical Education in Wroclaw (Poland), he is also President of the Academic Sport Club AZS-AWF Wroclaw, master class coach in athletics, author and co-author of several dozen publications, monographs and two academic textbooks on physical culture.
AZS-AWF Wroclaw was established in 1976 and from the beginning of its existence was focused on professional sport and training of students and seniors. Currently, there are sporting activities for children and about 1200 children and adolescents in age 4-18, have a possibility to do many kinds of sports. The club has extensive experience in organizing different kind of sport events at the national and international level, as well as many big recreational events.
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