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How Athletes Should Warm-Up Before Every Game and Practice

Our Summer Middle-School and High-School Performance Camps start June 26th!

Register today!

Watch the start to most youth sporting events and there is typically one thing missing. 

A warm-up. 

Watch the pregame of a baseball game and kids start by throwing or doing a couple arm stretches to get loose.

Basketball players get into layup lines and soccer players typically start by passing the ball back and forth. 

These athletes are missing out on the substantial performance benefits of a full dynamic warm-up and drastically increasing their risk of injury. 

Look no further than the countless research studies on proper warm-ups and their ability to improve performance by:

  • Increasing range-of-motion and core temperature
  • Increasing speed and power output
  • Increasing reactiveness and agility
  • Increasing strength
  • Helping athletes play lower 
  • Improving the bodies ability to produce energy
  • Delaying fatigue
  • Improving mental focus

What athlete would not want to be displaying a heightened level of all the qualities listed above at game time?

Most importantly, a proper warm-up has profound impact on decreasing an athlete's risk of injury. 

Research has shown, full dynamic warm-ups aid in protecting our youth against a host of injuries such as:

  • ACL tears (a female epidemic)
  • Muscle strains, pulls and tears
  • Ligament sprains
  • Hip and low-back pain
  • Elbow and shoulder injury (especially in throwers)

The key though, is to complete the right warm-up, in the right sequence to gain all the performance increasing and injury decreasing qualities. 

Let's get into your 10-minute dynamic warm-up. 

Hit this series of warm-up drills before every game or practice. 

Step 1| Stretch

The beginning of your warm-up should aim to open, relax and lengthen stiff muscles that restrict range-of-motion at your joints.  Here we start with passive stretches.

This will go a long way to improving inflexibility, posture and injury prevention. 

Be sure to hit target areas that tend to be overly stiff and restrict your athlete's ability to play low, extend and rotate like your low-back, calves, quads, glutes and lats. 

Get your team into lines or have them circle up to complete the stretching series together. 

Down-Dog Calf Stretch

Key Points:

  • Start with hands under shoulders in push-up position
  • Push hips as high as possible, while pushing heels flat
  • Feel stretch through calves and hamstrings
  • Walk hands in to intensify stretch
  • Hold for 5 deeps breaths 

Glute/Hip Stretch

Key Points:

Bring one knee and foot in front of body, keep back leg straight

  • Try to get front shin parallel to shoulders
  • Keep back leg straight
  • Should feel stretch in hip of lead leg
  • Hold for 5 long breaths/side

Quad/Hip Flexor Stretch with Reach

Key Points:

  • Start on one knee, legs at 90 degree angles
  • Contract glute of down leg and keep stomach braced
  • Push into ground with front foot
  • Keep a slight lean forward
  • Reach hand of down knee side up to the sky
  • Rotate palm back and side bend over lead knee
  • Feel stretch through front of down leg thigh and side of body
  • Hold for 5 breaths/side

Step 2| Mobilize

Once we've increased range-of-motion with our passive stretches it is time to increase core temperature and build strength and stability within our improved motion.

Here we shift to dynamic or active stretches which transfer better to athletics.

Have your team line up in line of 8-10 players. Each dynamic stretch will be completed for a total of 10-15yds. 

Knee-Hug + Spiderman Reach (opens hips, shoulders and upper back)

Key Points:

  • Stay as tall as possible pulling right knee to chest
  • Pause at top
  • Take big stride with right foot
  • Drop into lunge, bringing hands inside right foot
  • Keep back leg straight
  • Drop right elbow to the arch of right foot
  • Open right arm, keeping eyes on hand
  • Stand up and repeat on left side
  • Alternate sides for 10-15yds

Lateral Lunge (opens hips and groin/hip flexors)

Key Points:

  • Start tall with feet together
  • Stride to your right about 3-4 feet keeping toes straight and feet flat
  • Keeping the left leg straight, shift weight and sit into right hip
  • Lean and reach forward with good posture
  • Spin and repeat on left side
  • Alternate sides for 10-15yds

Inchworm (opens hamstrings and shoulders, activates core)

Key Points:

  • Start in push-up position
  • Leaving feet in place, walk hands in as far as possible
  • Keep legs straight
  • Return to starting position by walking hands out to push-up position
  • Make this harder by adding a push-up at the end of each rep
  • Complete as many reps as it takes to travel 10-15yds

Step 3| Activate

Here is where we charge it up and prepare the body to move at the highest speeds.

These movements aim to increase the athlete's heart rate and central nervous system, allowing for more force production, speed, power, agility, reactiveness and coordination. 

The movements listed below should resemble some of the movements done in their sport like sprinting, jumping, leaping and shuffling. 

Extend each exercise to 15 yards and complete each twice (shuffle and snapioca will be done once on each side)


Key Points:

  • Stay as tall as possible throughout skip
  • Work on driving down hard with each skip
  • Keep knee up and toe up throughout
  • Aim for as many reps as possible

Low Shuffle 

Key Points:

  • Keep low, athletic position throughout
  • Keep wide base, never letting feet get closer than shoulder width
  • Push aggressively off the back foot


Key Points:

  • Stand tall throughout
  • Start by leading with left shoulder
  • Take a quick step behind with right foot and then drive knee up and across hips
  • Rotate aggressively through the hips keeping upper-body still and tall
  • Aim for as many reps as possible 


Key Points:

  • This should resemble the same action and posture as the earlier skip
  • Drive into the ground and get as much height as possible
  • Hang in the air for as long as possible on each rep
  • Think of "posing for a picture" in the air on each rep

In-Place High Knee + Sprint

Key Points:

  • Coach will call "GO!" and athletes complete high knees in place
  • Stay tall and drive knees and arms as fast as possible
  • Keep your motion big and be AS FAST AS POSSIBLE!
  • Coach will call "GO!" again and athletes will sprint out 15yds

Our Summer Middle-School and High-School Performance Camps start June 26th!

Register today!

Our Summer Camps start June 26th!

Register Now!

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