Usually, what we have seen or what seems to be the norm is that we have our athletes run a couple of Laps and once completed the athletes would form a circle and hold a series of stretches for time. Toe touches, elbow behind the head, arms across the body, then maybe a quad stretch where the athlete cranks on their knee rather than actually stretching anything.
“Static stretching” and jogging to warmup is not at all bad and does in fact provide some benefit to an individual as it will increase blood flow to tissues, increase heart rate and respiratory rate as well as improving SOME length at tissues. However, this is not the most effective way when it comes to enhancing performance and reducing the likelihood of injuries.
Being one of the most controversial issues in athlete performance training there has been numerous research studies discussing this topic.
Athletes have been using “Dynamic stretching” methods for years. It is getting more and more attention these days due to the Internet and coaches discussing the topic and it's benefits.
Dynamic stretching is a series of exercises or movements designed to:
Improve blood flow
Increase core and soft tissue temperature
Excite and activate the nervous system and muscular system
Improve joint range of motion
Practice movements that will be used during game play
The days of holding stretches for long periods of time have come and gone. There is a time and a place for static stretching but it is not before a game. If anything on their own or as a group athletes should static stretch areas such as the hip flexors, quads and pectoral region as with these areas being the most problematic due to poor postural habits and inactivity. But, this is another article all in itself. For now let's focus on the benefits of dynamic stretching.
There have been numerous scientific studies singing the praises of dynamic stretching. My goal as as strength and conditioning coach is to help bridge the gap between myself and other sport performance coaches. The key with the dynamic warm-up is to not physically drain the athlete but rather get them "ready to go" for the game. Static stretching is a great way to increase flexibility and maintain adequate length of tissue. But, when it comes to improving performance the goal of our warm-up routine should involve movements that require our athletes to move with fluid motions in different positions and multi directions.
The main key here is to ensure of proper technique and instill in your athletes that you are getting ready to PLAY!
Here's a simple exercise menu for our adult athletes that you can do before games or can be performed on their own even for conditioning purposes:
Many players enter the game and they simply are not ready for play. Performing these drills will not only enhance performance but will also build a little bit of fitness and probably one of the biggest benefits, protect our athletes from nagging injuries!