Team Warm Ups

Please outline the structure and relative times for each subcomponent of warm ups used by strength and conditioning coaches for team training sessions.

What ratio of general athletic movement do you use compared to sport specific drills?

How much variety do you include?

Different coaches do different things. Martin Rooney made a video of the dynamic warm-up they do. It seems people are liking that.
This is what Verstegen does…thoughts?

You can also check Coach X and H’s journals at elitefts.

I don’t like many of the warm-ups I see…but watching Mark you can learn a lot…boyle as well I like what they do…

I have books of both Boyle and Verstegen. I have been including ideas of both in my warm ups.

I would still like my initial question answered. For team warm ups how long are they on average; What ratio of Boyle + Verstegen dynamic movements to sport specific skills are your warm ups?

Is there much new in either Gilman?

They both include an interesting array of dynamic stretches. As you well know nothing is completely new but I’m sure you would find movement patterns which you have not used.

Their respective books offer different insights into training athletes which may challenge your current views.

Mike Boyle’s approach may be more practical for training larger volumes of athletes with very realistic progressions. Verstegen’s warm-ups are more comprehensive but he primarily trains professional athletes. You have to consider how much time You and Your athletes have available to warm-up. An awesome warm-up that takes 20 minutes is wonderful but if you only have 30 minutes to work with your athletes it would be dumb. My athletes perform a 10-minute warm-up for their 45 and 90-minute sessions and we include progressions and variety into their warm-up just like everything else.

Hi Gilman

Unlucky draw on the weekend. You guys had a few chances to put them away towards the end but just could finish off some good phase ball. Better luck this week. How that famous hammy coming along is, is he looking good for the next match? You are sure missing his ‘go to’ out there. Ma’a and Tane have done a good job but he add’s something special on the field doesn’t he?

In regards to your ratio question - this is something I have been really trying to nut out and find ‘the balance’ for my teams of late, and in particular pre-match warm-ups, which in many ways can be transferred to the training scenario.

For my netball squads for example pre-game WU goes roughly like this-

Shooters get there early to do some shooting.

1hr pre game 10-15min partnered stretching of major lower muscles groups and spine mobilisation (big thing in netball).Strapping if required done pre-stretching.

Athletes change and on court (we only get half court) for total of 20-25min which includes-

3-4 min of things like lunge walk on toes, high knee pulls on toes, butt flicks, fast feet etc. Basically proprioceptive, mobilisation drills and raising the core temp. Balance and body awareness as you can imagine is a critical element to this sport. This is the most varried element of my WU’s and usually includes 6-8 drills.

3-4 min Progressive speed build up which changes periodically but a recent one that worked well looked like this-

20%: forward to centre circle, backwards to base, grapevine (carioca to the US audience) to 1/2 & back
20sec calf stretching
40%: forward to centre circle, backwards to base, push bounds to 1/2, pull bounds to base
20sec quad stretching
60% forward to centre and turn back to base, grapevine to 1/2 & back
20sec hammy stretching
80%: forward to centre and turn back to base, push bounds to 1/2, pull bounds to base
20sec ? stretching
100%: forward to centre and turn back to base, grapevine to 1/2 & back

Dynamic back stretching and dynamic leg stretching.


The ball is then introduced and coaching staff take over
-Basic partnered drills
-Positional drills
-Team drills

TOTAL = 12-19MIN

I observe the ball in hand work to assess there readiness and help the coaches make informed decisions about when to pull up the WU and get ready to take the court or change drills if one isn’t working well. For netball this is working very well and we are coming out very strong. I have recently adapted this style of warm-up for my League, Union, and AFL teams and so far have been getting fairly positive feedback.

Taking this to the training scenario is fairly simple. The ball in hand stuff might change in accordance with coaching directives but I tend to find what works with the team in my part of the WU and stick with it and vary it every few weeks or so while still maintaining the essential elements of the original WU.

Variation is not as critical as I first thought it might have been with this style of WU. I have found that if the athletes think it works and they can associate good results with the WU process they like the familiarity of the WU. I vary it every few weeks to prevent staleness, to much of a structured routine, and prevent the athletes going through the motions.

I use a similar process with my weigth training WU’s, but obviously not the same. There nothing to flashy about this style of WU, but it work and thats all I care about.

Like to hear your feedback Gilman

Hi Naki,

A super 12 follower! The famous hamstring will probably be playing this weekend against the Reds.

Thank you for listing a specific warm up. I like it and it follows my thoughts. Athletes in individual sports can warm up for very long periods of time and happily follow the same routines. Team Sports particularly Rugby seem to need great varietyand coaches want to get to the main part of the practice as quickly as possible.

Our structure appears to be moving towards the following:

  1. Increase core temperature with ball handling drills / fun activity (5min)
  2. Dynamic Stretching ( 5 min)
  3. Increased Intensity Work - Skill Drills and or
    - Agility (5 or 10 min)

Thanks Gilman - true - nothing is entirely new - just the application of - I might have a look at those sometime soon.

Static stretching:
On the Warmup question - while I agree with the formulal naki posted I also personally have begun to include some light static stretching pre-game on the h/s, abductors, glute and hip group.

I think the muscle group is so large and susceptable to injury particluarly early on in games that I only peronally feel comfrotable after a light static stretch pre-game to reduce muscle tonus - something dynamic stretching doesn’t seem to do for me.

Perhaps it’s more a psychological comfort for me.

You are right about the coaches wanting to get to their training as soon as possible, its common in most sports I’ve been involved with.

Is it fair to say that parts 1 & 2 of your structure you see as more of the WU where as part 3 is moving more into the training realm? I should have mentioned also that at training sessions I like to add a game/fun based activity prior to the speed progression also. Continuing with the netball example, it has been as game of soccer with 4 players in a third and altered netball rules. I haven’t changed this game for 3mths. They love it, and enjoy the fact they are becoming more proficient at it. Netballer’s traditionally have poor lower limb awareness and this has definitely improved that.

This WU subject has been a bit of a touchy subject for some of the sports Dr’s and physio’s of my teams recently, especially if there is an injured athlete needing to WU. As my ideas have progressed further away from traditional paradigms surrounding the WU, the more they have questioned the validity of more relevant and specific WU’s.

Their take is that if a WU reaches a high level of speed and/or intensity at any stage you increase the risk of injuring/re-injuring the athlete/s before they take the field. It should be about raising the core temp in their opinion, and it should be, understood. But the fact remains that a good WU should be progressive hopefully negating this worry, and create some form of preparedness so the athletes can take the playing arena and be ready to use the physical qualities they are about to draw upon during the game. This means waking the CNS up so that good speed onto the pass or good speed to the breakdown can be performed immediately upon taking the field. If the CNS in not cranked up pre-game, then your athletes are at a loss before they even take the field. It might be the difference between taking the intercept and not, or making the cover tackle and not early in the game! So what it means is that your damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

I just tell them that I’m willing to put my head on the block and take the risk of re-injury. I’ll go to all lengths to prevent injury obviously, but if an athlete cannot perform a WU that replicates somewhat, what they are about to perform on field and they get injured, then they were never ready to take the field in the first place. It was either going to happen in the WU or the game! I think most support staff feel that the game is an uncontrollable environment, and if an injury/re-injury occurs during the game rather than training or in this case the WU they were controlling, they are somehow less responsible and feel that there will be less scrutiny over how they might have contributed to this situation. Essentially it’s about self preservation, job security, and passing the blame to someone who is an easier target than themselves.

If the Hammy man for e.g., Gilman, injures his hammy during the captains run again or during the match WU vs. early on in the match against the Reds for example, in your opinion, which situation is more favourable and most likely to produce a win? I personally think it is the former. When and injury happens to a team mate on field, particularly someone as influential as Tana, team mates have to think on their feet and and usually some level of panic sets in. Some will argue that just to have him out there for any length of time would be a bonus. But the problem arises when a team has to readjust quickly to the replacement player, this take time an in fact they may not throughout the whole game which happens very frequently. I think you are better to know, it doesn’t matter long before 5 days or 5 min, before you take the field. Interested to here what you think.

In regards to WU in New Zealand’s winter temps vs WU in Queensland or Durban, what extra precautions to you have to take if any and how does it influence the length of and/or what you do?

How will Hammy man’s injury influence his WU on the weekend?

You missed your #7, he was playing well. How’s his pelvis injury?

I Agree No23, about the susceptability of these muscle groups.

This may be of interest to you. Personal, controlled research I did late last year with a Sports Pshyc and groups of my athletes, purely out of speculation, suggested that static stretching that lasts any longer than 15 min has a solid -ve effect on ‘state anxiety’ vs more active forms of stretching which has a more +ve effect.

Without going into too much of the specifics. Practically, what we inferred was that static forms of stretching should be completed no later than approximately 45min before game time, to give enough time form the anxiety levels to rise sufficiently and create an optimal state of arousal. You need to be optimally aroused for the the WU as well so the WU is effective. What it also suggested to us was that Static stretching reduces arousal below suboptimal levels needed for good sporting performnace. I personally think people who like to do static stretching pre-game, do so for personal statisfaction reasons. If they don’t, they feel they have not done what is required for them to perform well. Habitual traits, what they have assoiciated good performance to in the past, and character traits determine whether an athlete prefers to static stretch or not. Understand, I’m not suggesting there is no benifit at all doing this form of preparation pre-match. You just have to find a harmonious balance.

What this did do though, was influnence my WU’s. For the athlete who likes to static stretch, I get them to finish not later than 45min before the game. Knowing they like to do some static stretching close to the game to mentally prepare, I placed 100-130sec of it in the Progressive speed build up. This seems to create a nice balance between the people who like this form of prep, and what I think is more efficacious for pre-game/training WU’s.

Interested to hear your responses.

Interesting - I would agree.
I haven’t conducted as much detailed research or study, but I have noted my personal responses to various approaches.

I have used quite long static stretching sessions the night before games and I have found this of partilcuar help (although therapists have told me this is of little use) and simply used dynamic stretching right before games.
I found this approach quite good - providing the match isn’t too late the following day.

The therapist may be right from a match prep perspective, it is doubtful that any form of static stretching session will help you ‘get ready’ to perform considering there will be 7-8hrs sleep + the game day build up to negate any gained benifits. But I also think that from a relxation and perhaps also an injury prevention take, that it may be of some use to do this the night before.

The idea of performing good dynamic pre-match movements is what most consider to be the best way to prepare in the WU. Is this what most consider to be ideal?

What sport do you play No23, and what sort of WU structure do you or you team use?

Gaelic Football (Ireland) - [It can only be best described as similar to Aussie Rules or a cross between soccer and rugby. It’s the national sport here - far bigger than rugby or soccer.]

The warm-up structure is very similar to what Gilman described above:

  1. Increase core temperature with ball handling drills (5min)
  2. Dynamic Stretching ( 5 min)
  3. Increased Intensity Work - (5 or 10 min)
  4. Return to Changing room for team-talk
  5. Out on field for game time …

Usually we’re given some time also to do a little stretching on our own.

Finding the right mixture is very immportant - enough stretching to reduce muscle tone in order to relieve tension and prevent injury and finding a happy medium with maintaining the tonus so as not to relax the muscle too much.

Thanks gentlemen (namely naki and no23) for your responses. Something so simple as a warm up is actually quite complex due to a multitude of factors - coaches, physios/doctors, static stretching v dynamic stretches.

My thoughts at present are that activity to increase core temperature should involve skill drills which coaches monitor closely; players however need to be encouraged to perform the skills at a pace that enables them to warm up best. Players are more stimulated by specific activity compared to general movement.

I prefer the idea of active “movement preparation” to coin a phrase of Verstegen to static stretching as it is more specific to the tasks that will follow. However I do totally agree that players have a psychological attachment to static stretching. For this reason 1 practice in 4 I’ll do static stretching instead of dynamic to provide variety.

As for doctors and physios I believe we need to listen to them and as long as the majority are following what we are after it doesn’t really matter!

In the long term I intend encouraging players to warm up for the warm up ie in their own time prior to practice if they require to stretch statically they do this prior to a team meeting. This is possible as I deal with professional players.

Thus the warm up needs to be designed to cater for different scenarios.

One thing I think we must be aware of with skill drills etc first up in the WU is that they don’t get to competitive and to fast to early. There is a natural competitive tendency for athletes to do this. This is the main reason I like to keep the ball out of the hand for the first 5-8min then get skill based, so I have more control over the competitive charge an anxiety. If you have a good bunch of athletes that can control themselves, then there really isn’t any concern with skill drills straight up. Thoughts?

So how does climatic conditions effect what you do Gilman, (and No23 since it is cold in Ireland as well!) in terms of length and progression since they may be starting with a cooler core temp?

ON THE FLIP SIDE - Warm downs! Run me through what you guys are doing within the hour post match?

Warm-down - what’s that? -Oh you mean the Guiness and Gatorade shake?

OK - Just kidding.
Good points Gilman -
“Players are more stimulated by specific activity compared to general movement” - very true - specifics ‘tune in’ athletes better than general running drills, help get the ‘eye in’ and relax with the ball also.
Also - I firmly believe no ‘general warmup’ moves the body in the spirals that it will be using during the game to come and so is not really preparing the athlete properly for the contact, agility and movement to come.

Naki - I also like your point about slow warm-ups at the start -

I often try and warm-up myself before everyone else gets out if I can as some warm-ups start too fast for me.
I tend to have perhaps stiffer joints and bigger muscles than the others (I get good relief from MSM for example).
It might seem ridiculous - but I always start my warm-ups with a walk, brisk walk, swinging arms and then risiing up on my toes working the calfs, then brisk walk with high knees stretching out the hips etc. etc. and then finally into a slow jog. But I always have to start nice and slow first.

This is very important in the cold whether also as joints can be a lot stiffer in the winter months.
Clothing is critical here also … loose comfortable breathable clothes that allow the body to move raise temp and yet breathe.
The other factor with cold whether is the whole schedule - no waiting around - long team talks etc.
It is also the one time static strtehcing certainly should be limited - dynamic movements keep raising the core temp.

One question I’d like to ask also is - What differences are there between the stretching and warm-ups for sprinting and that for team sports?

  • Bear in mind team sports have contact to prepare for.
  • Also - dynamic stretching is promoted on the basis that it stretches the muscle before triggering the stretch reflex - which is fine for short term activities sprinting - However does this change for team sports?
    In tema sports - as fatigue sets in muscles tire and can be more prone to injury - would static stretching have a better influence on injuries occurring later in the game?

Just a question I’ve been thinking about for a bit?
Thanks guys - good debate.