What is a coach really looking at during the warm up?

A good warm up is an essential component of any type of training. What you may not know is that it is probably the most important time for a coach. Typically, the function of a warm up is to raise our athletes’ core temperature, which also increases their heart rates and blood circulation, decreases joint viscosity, restores joint range of motion, and prepares them physically and mentally for the upcoming workout. However, for the coaches here at Velocity, this is just the tip of the iceberg; we can learn a great deal about each athlete just by looking for the right things.

Our sports performance coaches teach athletes speed, agility, and quickness by making their movements more efficient. As in any field, teaching first begins with assessing what a new “student” does or does not already know. Furthermore, excellent teachers and coaches do their best to understand the individual in front of them. Without this knowledge, it is very difficult to know how best to coach and correct an athlete. We might be telling them what to do, but they are probably not learning or improving. In the worst-case scenario, coaching an athlete through a session without knowing their level of experience may lead to injury. The tasks we prescribe must be appropriate to their skill level. Too much difficulty and the athletes won’t get better; not enough difficulty and they aren’t challenged and still don’t improve.

How do we quickly discern how much they know and the level of their movement skills at Velocity? The warm up! Especially when it is an athlete’s first session, we pay close attentions to the athlete’s movement quality. “What is his hip mobility like?” “How’s her sprint technique during the acceleration phase?” Even though an athlete may be experienced and has trained with us for a while, the warm up is still the best place to review their movement quality and gives us tons of important information. “How much did he learn from the last session?” “Did she improve her change of direction skill since last week?” By collecting this information, any coach will be better equipped to run a coaching session more efficiently and it with better results.