• Thomas Wheeler

Youth athlete development - the warm-up

Whilst sometimes overlooked, the warm-up is one of the most critical aspects of your preparation. Well-designed warm-ups have been continuously proven to reduce injuries and enhance performance. Coaches should pay great attention to the objectives and content of every warm-up delivered, tailoring each to the training session or competition, but also to each athlete’s highly-specific strengths and weaknesses.

Commonly lasting for approximately 10-30 minutes, equating volume over a 12-week training cycle, the coach can utilise an additional 12- hours of high-quality training time incorporating specifics in the warm-up (e.g. a 15-minute warm-up performed 4 x per week for 12-weeks = 12 hours of training time). This further encourages the use of a well designed warm-up at the start of EACH SESSION.

So, what do they look like? A few laps of an oval?

A warm-up should entail the following aspects;

R- raise

A- activate

M- mobilise

P- potentiate

(Above is the protocol devised by Ian Jefferey's [more here], called the ramp method. This systematic, sequential protocol is a fantastic way to ensure sufficient preparation prior to training or sport).

Raise refers to raising body temperature, with intensity of movement scaling from low to moderate. In this phase there is a general focus on the set-up of movement ready for sport (dependant on specifics of your sport).

Some examples are;


Cone shuttle runs (low intensity)

Small hurdle high knee runs

Activate and mobilise refers to the "activation and mobilisation" of muscles related to subsequent performance. The focus of this phase is to increase brain activity to the muscles and increase joint mobility in preparation for the movements to follow.

Some examples are;

Bodyweight lunges


Calf raises

Spiderman lunge reach


Potentiate refers to developing the same intensity/potential in the warm up, as the following sport/training session requires. The main focus in this phase is to work to max effort to fully prepare for the sport/training session.

Some examples are;

High speed run throughs

Plyometric jumps/hops/skips

Agility runs

Here is a visual example;

To ensure you maximise athletic potential, decrease the risk of injury and fully prepare for your training/game... start right from the warm-up!

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