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Want a leg up over your opponents? Here’s how to do it. The warmup should be the first component of any sports performance training program. It’s imperative to have an effective dynamic, or active, warmup. This will boost body temperature, increase blood flow to the active muscles, activate muscle
groups, stimulate the nervous system, and enhance joint mobility. Performing a dynamic warmup correctly prepares the body for competition, training or practice, while at the same time helping to decrease the potential for injury.

Competitive and professional athletes will warm up and cool down every time they play because it is part of their ingrained, trusted and proven routine. They know the importance of an effective dynamic warmup so they will always make it a priority before beginning any training, practice or competition. Unfortunately, for the amateur athlete, this tends to be the first (or second thing if you count the cooldown) that gets overlooked. We justify not warming up correctly by saying, “I’m running late,” “I don’t want to keep people waiting for me,” “It’s just a rec game,” “I’ll warm up as the game goes along,” “I’ll use the first game as a warmup,” “It’s just for fun”—Do any of these sound familiar?

No matter who we are playing against, whether it’s a rec game, competition, or training, we need to first prepare our body to move effectively so we can play longer, harder and, at the same time, help reduce the risk of injury. The warmer the temperature the easier a time we have “warming up”; the colder the temperature the harder time the body has—so why not give it a helping hand? Besides, it’s the only one we’ve got.

These are the benefits of a dynamic warmup:

1 - A warm body allows for increased range of motion, allowing the body mechanics to move effectively and exert force through movement. 2 - Increased blood flow and oxygen to the muscles aid in enhancing performance by increasing aerobic energy production for prolonged activity. 3 - Your performance is improved through warmup because using functional movements can increase the rate at which you learn skills and help accelerate the rate of training. 4 - Lowering the resistance in the muscles, tendons and ligaments results in an increased range of motion and also helps decrease muscle and joint stiffness. Examples of exercises you can include in your dynamic warmup are: (Perform each exercise for 15-20 seconds.)

1 – March or jog in place This starts the body moving, increasing blood flow and oxygen throughout the body—essentially waking the body up. 2 – Squats Squats are extremely effective at activating the big muscle groups in the lower body. Quadriceps and hamstrings are activated and the glutes start firing. Shift hips back. Knees track out over feet, but not past toes. Keep the majority of your body weight in your heels. 3 – Arm scoops with hamstring stretch Stick out your foot with toes flexed up. Shift hips back. Circle opposite arm up to the sky and around, stretching down toward the flexed foot. Circle 4-5 times then switch foot and arm to other side. This exercise works on shoulder mobility and flexibility as well as actively lengthening the hamstring for play. 4 – Chest openers These activate both chest and back muscles. Cross arms in front, then swing to the back, squeezing shoulder blades together. 5 – Lunge with rotation Lunges engage the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps. By adding the upper body rotation (rotating toward the front leg), flexibility as well as core activation and ankle stabilization come into play.

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