Getting your body ready

Youth conditioning coach Stian Weideman explains how schools rugby players should warm up.

Warming up is probably one of the most important aspects of training, yet a lot of youth coaches, parents and players do not fully grasp the concept of warming up before a training session or game.

A player performs a warm-up to increase the body’s temperature as well as to wake the nervous system up.

It’s a known fact that most coaches/parents believe that the best way to warm up a player is to make him run a couple of times around the field. Thereafter the players should sit in a circle and perform a couple of ‘static’ stretches (holding a stretch for 20-30 seconds) until the coach feels it’s time to start with the session.

Performing an aerobic exercise (jogging around the field a couple of times) as a warm-up will not prepare the body for the workout/training session ahead. The body will not be able to function to its full potential and therefore you will not be able to achieve the results you long for.

The goal of most training sessions are to improve speed, agility, co-ordination, etc and therefore it would be merely impossible to achieve these goals if the body is not able to perform to its full potential. How does a youth coach expect his players to perform if their body/muscles are not ready?

Why do most coaches/parents believe that it is best to perform a static stretch before a workout? This myth has been passed on from generation to generation. I bet you when you were at school you did the same routine (running around the field and then sitting in a circle and stretching), I know I did.

Let me explain the effects of static stretching in the most basic way. When performing a static stretch before a workout, you actually deactivate the muscles that you are about to use during the session. Does this sound like something you want to do before a session?

Yes, static stretching does improve flexibility, but before a training session is not the time to work on flexibility. Flexibility training should be done three to five times a week (depending on your sport) and are performed after a workout or at home.

A warm-up routine should be anything from 15-25 minutes to achieve the desired results.

In the next article on warming up, I will give you an example of what types of exercises should be performed during the warm up.

– Contact Weideman at [email protected] or visit his website at www.youthrugbyfitness.com