Monday, March 4, 2013

Apathetic Warm-ups

Kelvin Giles' recent post got me a bit fired up. I am in complete agreement with his observations:

"Just watched an entire warm-up of a Premier League football team. It contained the foundations of a really good warm up with Stability, Lunging, Squatting, Running Drills being present. What I can’t comprehend is how the players were allowed to do such poor movements. A basic tenet of quality training is ‘variety – progression – precision’. They were just going through the motions – missing turns, moving badly, poor concentration and poor intensity – all in front of 40,000 people who probably thought it all looked OK. When the ball appeared so did a little more precision and pride. Elite performance is all about repeatable excellence in everything you do. If British Cycling has a strategy of continuous improvement by the accumulation of small gains and everyone is beating a path to their door for guidance – what a great example of a wasted chance by this football team. Repeatable excellence is an all-day, all-time trait and there is no room for the sloppiness on display today."

... so much agreement, that I have to rant about it.
I don't hate a lot of things, but I do hate a lack of mindful engagement in warm-ups. For workouts, I hate sloppiness and apathy in any part, but especially a warm-up. The beginning of the workout sets the tone for the rest of the work being done. Warm-ups are important.

I even hate to reference it as a warm-up anymore because of the connotations it seems to conjure up. I just tell the athletes "let's go!", and we get to work on different movements. If it's sloppy, we do it again. If it continues to be sloppy, we go to more extreme measures. Everything that we do, from start to finish, adds up, so crap is just going to lead to more crap. Warm-ups are not an audition for an extras role in "The Walking Dead"
'Oh, we're just doing some skips?'... NO! We are developing rhythm, foot and ground interaction, ankle/foot complex stiffness, postural coordination, relaxed stability - all with what should be a professional focus.

If a lunge is in the warm-up, it should look like a goddamn lunge. If it's a lunge walk, then each step should be a lunge, not a couple lunges inter-mixed with walking.

Lateral lunge... with a 10 degree knee bend? Hands on the thighs, like the elderly? With a spinal position of that of a dog going #2 on the lawn?

Warm-ups don't have to always be structured in drill style... for us, some days, in the beginning of our workouts we'll make things a bit more playful (sometimes adding in some type of ball) for the energetic effects - jostling, dodging, tossing and catching, shooting, kicking, etc... and I am very much ok with smiling and laughing, but there is a big difference between enjoying something and just jacking off (or slap-dicking, as a fellow coach of mine would say). I want the athletes to have the maturity to be able to be playful, yet fully engaged and trying. Once again, I loathe, looooatttthhhhe, the nonchalance.

Ironically, I've gotten the impression that movement quality, the phrase of choice the past few years, is what everybody is working on... Neat! How about those warm-ups?

Movement quality training isn't just about the ability to look pretty to a standard ideal, but also for the individual to be mindfully aware of their movement.

Within sport performance, we are learning and sharing a lot of information about so many different 'advanced' concepts and ideas in training... and yet, is it too elementary to be concerned about a focused warm-up? Is it too much to ask of the athletes? I don't even really care what is done in the warm-up (well, I do a little), than how it is done. And, not just the technique of it... are the athletes mindfully engaged - fully focused on the precision of what they are doing? Every bit of training, and how it is done, adds up.



Josh Leeger said...

Where is their intention?

Who is guiding their intention?

Is their intention merely to "warm up?"

To "warm up" what, precisely?

Just the muscles, tendons and ligaments?

Or also the CNS?

Or also the inner drive? The desire/fire? "Heart?"

Strange "warm ups" that leave everyone cold inside...

Aaron Schwenzfeier said...

"Strange "warm ups" that leave everyone cold inside..."

I love that line.