Warming Up Properly


It seems that many grappling coaches and athletes simply miss the point when it
comes to class warm-ups. Warm-ups are physical and mental preparation for the
upcoming training session. By raising body temperature, blood flow, and breathing
rate they provide an optimal physiological environment for muscle contraction
and metabolic processes. In addition, they allow the athlete to tune-in
mentally to the techniques and drills to be taught. So what are the most common warm-up errors?

Ignoring warm-up or doing too little

Oftentimes, the warm-up is simply left out or is so minimal, that it essentially has no effect. Warm-ups must be done properly and consistently in order to maximize performance and decrease the chance of injury. This effect is not just physical. Increasing blood flow prior to teaching also improves alertness and cognitive functioning so that students can pay closer attention to the instruction and learn the techniques faster.

Doing too much warm-up

After the warm-up everyone should be breathing hard, have a light sweat, and be ready to go. That is ready to work out, not go home. Turning the warm-up into a grueling conditioning session like many instructors do will cause fatigue to interfere with technical learning and drill performance. The rationale is often that one must be able to fight fatigued, and I will not argue with that point. However, wearing everyone out before the skill training will not accomplish this goal. Save the conditioning until the end of class to use as a ‘finisher’.

Too much of a cool-down period

Unless a moderate-intensity activity level is maintained following the warm-up, the athletes will rapidly cool down. If this happens the effect of the warm-up will be lost. When planning classes, make sure that instructional segments are short and to the point. Try to insure that there is never more than 2-3 minutes of inactivity from the beginning to the end. Lecturing for long periods of time about technique is fine for seminars but for class this just causes everyone to stiffen up and get bored.

Brian Jones, PhD

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