Q: How important is a dynamic warmup and how often should it happen?
A: As the season progresses, coaches, players and parents get extremely busy. Our daily schedule fills quickly. It can be tempting to let the so-called “little things” slide and move away from habits that make athletes successful; those that truly benefit the player and help prevent injuries. An example is the dynamic off-ice warmup. It’s a valuable piece of the high-performance puzzle, but too often it’s skipped for a multitude of reasons.
As coaches, players and parents, we must embrace the importance of a comprehensive warmup (and cooldown) and the role it plays in peak performance in each and every workout, practice and game. It needs to be a priority, not a so-called “little thing,” and here’s why:
Advantages of a dynamic warmup
1. A dynamic warmup activates muscles that will be used during the upcoming workout. It prepares the muscles and joints in a more sport-specific manner.
2. A dynamic warmup involves continuous movement, so it maintains warmth in the body and muscles.
3. A dynamic warmup enhances coordination and motor ability, benefits that are especially important for younger athletes who are still learning their bodies.
4. Dynamic stretches improve body awareness. They prepare the mind for the workout ahead. Proper mental preparation for any sport is crucial and the dynamic warmup forces athletes to focus on the present activity and what’s ahead while having also having fun. It’s a time for each player to focus, concentrate, mentally prepare and leave all outside distractions at the door.
5. Dynamic stretching improves range of motion and elasticity. The benefit is increased suppleness, which helps prevent injury.
Additionally, warming up in motion enhances muscular performance and power. Studies show that dynamic stretching before a workout can help athletes gain power and increase overall athletic performance compared to no stretching or static stretching.
We know players at 14U/16U are trying to improve every day. To get stronger, build more muscle, or simply perform better, a dynamic warmup routine is an important step in their training.
Here’s an example of a dynamic warmup that should take approximately 10-15 minutes:
Step 1. Light aerobic warmup (light jog, jumping rope, riding the bike, skipping, etc.)
Step 2. Work on a foam roller (especially on sore spots)
Step 3. Dynamic warmup exercises (lunge with a twist, hip stretch with a twist, knee to chest, high kicks, jump lunges, T-pushups)
For another detailed example, please click the PDF sample below.
The author, Dan Jablonic, is a USA Hockey regional manager for the American Development Model. A Minnesota native, Jablonic played in the USHL before enrolling at the University of Minnesota Duluth, and later, embarking on a professional playing career in the ECHL and Europe. Following his playing career, he coached in Europe before returning to the United States where he served as the Washington Little Caps' hockey director and as a a USA Hockey National Player Development Camp coach on multiple occasions. A USA Hockey Level 4-certified coach, Jablonic attended the North American Rink Conference and Expo (NARCE) in 2013 and gained his hockey director certification.
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