It’s obvious: Before doing practice you should always warm-up properly. When coaching my U14 team, they usually think of warming-up as being an unnecessary chore, therefore they seldom do it on their own. Instead they wait until I tell them to.
Children want to learn why they have to do something the coaches tells them, so this is a great chance to combine theory and practical experience. Make use of the childrens need to move and prepare the warm-up with small games and competitions.
In general, the benefits of warming up kids are the same as warming up grown-ups:
All in all the body is much better prepared for the upcoming practice and risk of injury is highly reduced. Depending on the age of the players, explain to them in short and easy to understand words why they are warming-up and how the selected drills will benefit them.
During warm-up keep other aspects in mind, too:
Working with children is a little more challenging than working with grown-ups. It has always been my goal to emphasize having fun in doing sports and being an active, because this will help children in their future life. Nowadays not enough is done in schools to educate about fitness and health. Instead, practices are strucutured based on outdated principles.
Scientific tests have shown that the adaptability of the human body during childhood and adolescence is by far most developed. The skills acquired during this time are the physiological basis which stay a lifetime. Not only aspiring athletes should take advantage of this, but all children. It helps prevent overweight as well as numerous secondary diseases which are caused by lack of regular exercise. The demand exists … this is beyond question. According to the Ministry of Health here in Germany, one in five children has overweight. With teenagers it is even one in three, with the numbers constantly rising.
This should be reason enough to help our youth to warm-up properly and set a good foundation for their health!
Great article Eitel.
Do you stretch with younger kids as well?
Stretching with kids has always been something I’ve found coaches have mixed views on. While it doesn’t really help muscles all that much, I do it because it creates the habit of stretching before training and games. And hopefully that habit will continue on throughout their sporting lives and help them down the track.
– Coach Mac
Hey Coach Mac,
Thanks for your feedback!
You have a very good point there with the habituals.
There are various opinions about this: Mine is that extra stretching is not necessary, if you coach children younger, lets say, 11 or 12 yrs. Their muscles are extremely stretchable at this age, therefore I would not spend too much time on stretching. If you’d like to build habits, though, I’d suggest implementing ‘warm-up’ games, so they get used to preparing for the intense practice when getting older.
Thanks again for commenting!