It’s common for coaches to jump right into practice without warming up the kids first. We all know that rushed feeling as practice begins, our minds teeming with all we want to accomplish during the limited time we have with our team. We assume that the young bodies will be ready to go.
While it’s true that young muscles and joints don’t need as much time to warm up as our older ones, they do need a short period designated for getting physically ready for practice, particularly in sports like basketball and soccer, in which they’re running a lot of the time.
Here’s a helpful video that offers a simple plan for warming up the athletes so they’re muscles and joints are ready to go. Hosted by Mark Gleason at Athletic Revolution, the video suggests beginning with three to five minutes of play, just letting the kids run around in some way–relay races or dodge ball or whatever. Gleason says this approach not only warms up the muscles but it also helps them focus when practice begins, letting them run off the energy they’ve been bottling up in school all day.
He then suggests some basic range-of-motion exercises to limber up the joints and the muscles. Check out the video and begin taking a few minutes at the beginning of practice to warm up your players. When they’re muscles and joints are ready, they are less at risk of injury, which we all want to avoid.