What is Warmup?

In a recent thread on a coaching group, the overall theme swerved to towards 'warmup' and what it really is (and isn't). It was an example of how important it is to clearly define the terms we use when we are discussing things. Here are some brief thoughts on warmup.

People have many considerations when they think of 'warmup':

  • is warmup part of practice or prior to practice?
  • is warmup a drill, a series of drills, or not a drill at all?
  • what are warming up?
  • why are we warming up?
Below is my definition of warmup:
  1. Warmup is part of practice. Practice time is precious and you need to cram as much learning and development as possible into practice. By doing certain things in warmup you can achieve many outcomes at the same time.
  2. Warmup can be a series of drills. This is really more about the definition of a 'drill'. Mine is that everything you do in practice are drills. And if they are not, why would you be doing them?
  3. We are warming up everything. We are building up to an optimal physical, mental and emotional level in order to learn and develop as much as possible in the limited training time.
My favourite warmup:
  1. Players run while playing with a ball, doing any variation I can think of to get them to improve their spatial awareness, body control, and (but not always) volleyball skills. Also achieves: muscle warmup, range of motion dynamic stretching, skill development  - 3 minutes.
  2. Functional movement exercises, lunges (front and side and back), squats, thoracic mobility. Also achieves: activation of muscle coordination in critical joints - 5 minutes.
  3. Small games, which require skill and movement and add a physical component (players should be sweating at the end). Also achieves, problem solving, ball control, team dynamics and leadership - 7 minutes.
Favourite warmup story:

I was coaching the best player I've ever coached. Former D1 All American, Olympian. Smart, skilled, competitive. At the time my latest pet hate was pepper and how it doesn't replicate anything to do with volleyball, so I stopped allowing time for it in practice. After a couple of days of this she came up to me and said: 'Look, I understand why we stopped doing it and I completely agree with the logic of what you are saying but......after 15 years of playing, I just don't feel like I've warmed up until I've peppered.' So, we went back to peppering for a few minutes at the start of every training, and I made a mental note about coaches creating learned reliance on the wrong things.

My second favourite warmup story:

I was coaching a group of talented guys - 18 to 20 years old. They had played a number of World Youth and Junior Championships between them. We would NEVER pepper at practice. Eventually I noticed that in warmup for games, where there is really no option but to pepper, we were horrible. Just horrible. We would spend more time chasing the ball than actually getting touches. So I relented and started doing it at practice, but only until we got good enough to do it efficiently. Then we stopped.

If you are interested in talking to Alexis about new ways of looking at old ideas please click here.


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