Are warm ups necessary?
A child is always ‘ready’, so do they need to warm up?
A child’s body is far more pliable than an adults in terms of being able to get up and go, so what are the benefits?
After over 20 years experience of teaching and coaching, I believe they do.
The ‘getting ready’ is the key. It is not only their body they need to put into gear, it is their mind too. A quick warm up game of tag, stuck in the mud, traffic lights, all these activities engage the brain in ‘how’ they are moving as well as ‘why’.
By consistently starting sessions with a warm up, it establishes good habits. These they can then take forwards to when they are choosing to do their own activity in the future. So as they get older and more independent the pattern of activity and warm ups is already established.
Are stretches necessary?
Yes, as they get older their bodies do get tighter so they do need to loosen up more. We as adults know this feeling! But as younger children incorporating whole body stretches into fun games is far more enjoyable than static stretches.
I’ve also noticed how a warm up is especially useful before matches (I coach junior hockey). It really switches the brain on to the game and focuses that “team spirit’. If it is skipped or not thorough enough the children aren’t fully ‘ready’ and may spend the first part of the game working out what they are doing.
Warm ups will mostly depend on the age of the children and what activity they are about to do. Most importantly they should be fun.
The aim of a warm up is to increase the heart rate, ideally puff a bit and loosen up their muscles and joints, specifically the ones they will be using most in the session.
Some warm up example ideas:
Young children: Tag, stuck in the mud, shipwreck, cars.
Older children: Superhero tag, relays, traffic lights.
So, warm ups should be done before any physical activity to prepare the body and the mind for the task ahead, no matter what age you are.
It’s an important part of establishing and maintaining good habits for a life long love of activity and thus avoiding injury, enabling you to continue.
Are you READY?