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T r a i n i n g

The Warm Up

As you know, in order for you to be ready to perform speed work or compete at high intensities, you must get warmed up properly. For many years the accepted norm has been to perform a light warm-up followed by some static stretching. Unfortunately, this outdated method actually reduces speed and power. Think about it: how often during a practice or competition does an athlete hold a stretch position as part of their sport?

If you are still using this method to get ready to compete, you are not getting the most out of your ability. Instead, you should perform dynamic exercises that are similar to the types of movements you will be going through during practice and competitions. Keep moving and gradually increase the intensity of your activity. That way you can get the blood flowing into the muscles through a natural progression. Remember, a good warm-up should take at least 20 to 25 minutes to complete. This will reduce the likelihood of injury by ensuring that you do not try to go too fast too soon. In addition, you will get the most out of your muscles because you followed a thought-out progression of movements that went from low intensity jogging and skipping to high intensity speed development drills and exercises. By the time you have finished warming up, you will be lightly sweating, fired up and ready compete!

Introduction Your starting point should be a general cardiovascular warm-up lasting 5-10 minutes (or until you have broken a light sweat). This raises the body’s core temperature enough to enhance the elasticity of muscles, tendons, ligaments and overall joint structures and prepare you for the workout ahead. This portion of the warm-up can be accomplished in several ways, but usually involves light jogging.

Another purpose of this initial warm-up is to prepare the mind for the workout ahead. It is a time to focus and concentrate, leaving all outside distractions and stressors (school work, relationship problems etc) at the door. After this initial preparation of body and mind, it is time to move to the next phase of preparation and begin the dynamic part of the warm-up.

As with any drill, it is important to start out conservatively and slowly until an athlete has mastered the movement with perfect technique. For drills such as ‘high knees’, athletes can certainly increase speed as they become more proficient at performing the movement. For drills such as ‘pointers’, speed should be kept slow and controlled, with improving range of motion as the primary focus. The entire dynamic warm-up can be done in as little as five minutes or as long as 20 minutes, depending on the goals, age, and fitness level.

Below is a list of 15 dynamic warm-up exercises from which you should select 8-10 to perform over a distance of 15-20 metres, followed by a light jog back to the starting point to maintain the warm-up effect.
Ankle pops Lightly bounce off both toes while keeping the knees very slighty bent. This is very similar to a skipping motion, except that it is performed while moving forward. The idea is to introduce progressively more range of motion as you move through the prescribed distance.
High knees This is basic running form while bringing the knees up higher than normal – ideally beyond your waistline. Aim to keep your feet moving as fast as possible and your ankles, knees, hips and shoulders facing forwards.
Butt kicks Similar to high knees except you keep your thighs perpendicular to the ground while kicking your heels up towards your backside. Again, move fast and keep ankles, knees, hips and shoulders in alignment.
Carioca Moving laterally to your left, cross your right foot in front of your left, then step with your left, then cross your right foot behind the left and repeat. Aim for as much hip rotation as possible and keep those feet moving fast! If performed correctly, this looks like a new dance move!
Step slide Assume a low athletic position with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, your ankles, knees, hips and shoulders facing forwards and your knees slightly bent. Pushing off your right leg, slowly step laterally to the left with your left leg, then slide your right leg back to its original position, making sure your feet don’t touch or cross. This is similar to a ‘defensive slide’ in basketball and the coaching cue when performing it is ‘step – slide’.
Glute walk In the process of your walk, put your left hand on your left knee and right hand on your left ankle, then pull both in towards your chest. Take a step and repeat on the other leg.
Back pedal Run backwards maintaining a little bit of a forward lean (shoulders over your toes) to prevent falling. Really ‘reach back’ as far as you can with each step to help stretch the hip flexor muscles.
Frankenstein march Keeping your left leg straight, kick it up in front of you as high as you can, trying to tough the fingertips of the opposite arm – basically a straight leg march – then repeat with the right leg. This is an excellent way to increase hamstring flexibility.
Knee hug While walking forward, hug your left knee into your chest, then step and repeat on the right leg, continuing with alternate legs. This is an excellent way to loosen up the glutes and hips.
Pointers Keeping your left leg straight (and right leg bent) and left foot pointed upwards, reach down with your right hand to try to touch your left toe. Then take a step and repeat on the other side. This is another excellent movement for enhancing hamstring and low back flexibility.
Quad walk While walking forwards, pull your left heel in to your buttocks, then step and repeat with the right leg, continuing with alternate legs. This is ideal for loosening up the quadriceps and hip flexors.
Low lunge Step forward with your left leg into a lunge position (ankles, knees, hips and shoulders facing forward, torso upright) trying to place your left elbow on the ground as close to your left heel as possible.
Over the fence Facing in the opposite direction to the way you want to travel, raise your left knee as high as possible and rotate it behind you as if you were trying to walk backwards and step over an imaginary fence. Repeat on the right leg and continue with alternate legs
Inchworm Assume a push-up position on the ground, and walk your feet close to your hands while keeping the legs as straight as possible. Then return to the start position. Repeat over the prescribed distance, making sure your hands and feet never leave the ground.
Scorpion Lie face down on the ground with arms extended out to the sides, palms facing down, so your body forms a ‘T’ shape. Maintaining this facedown position and keeping your shoulders flat on the ground, bring your left heel and swing it back towards your right hand in a reverse twisting motion. Repeat on the other leg.