Is practice moving slowly? Are you on the bench waiting to get subbed in? Is it November and you can’t seem to shake the chill in the air? If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions you are probably having trouble staying warm enough to perform optimally in a practice or match!
If you’ve done your usual warm-up but you’re chilled and want to stay warm to perform your best, here are some tips…
First, dress for the weather or your gym. Sounds simple right? I can’t tell you how many athletes I’ve seen step off of a bus in shorts when its 10 degrees Celsius! The problem is that they are starting already chilled and they may be only getting partially prepared by doing a regular warm-up. So, make sure you dress for the weather, in fact, over dress. Layer your clothes so if you are too warm and start to sweat just peel off the layers! If you’re training in a cold gym you should be in track pants for the whole practice-cold knees feel terrible jumping so keep the legs warm.
Change your warm-up. Yes, we all like routine and we are creatures of habit BUT we must adapt to our environment. This means that if you are playing a match in Mexico your warm-up will be shorter due to the extreme heat. Before you start your main warm-up moves (dynamic warm-up) you must first break a sweat. Under normal circumstances this may take 5 minutes of easy jogging, skipping or shuffling. When it is colder it will take longer so keep moving until you break a sweat. If your hands are still icy you haven’t gotten enough circulation through your upper body. So, keep moving until your body feels warm (starting to sweat) and your hands aren’t frigid!
During a match your space can be limited if you’re not playing, but if you’re not warm enough you certainly can’t perform well when you’re subbed in! While on the side prioritize with leg movements. They are the largest muscle groups and will help circulate the warm blood to your upper body as well. The only problem is that your legs are going to be exhausted if you only do leg movements. So, rotate through a leg movement (lunge, squat, glute bridge etc), a core movement (plank, curl, back extension etc) and upper body movement (push ups, external rotations, tubing T-rows) to keep your body warm. Keep the volume low and the resistance low but if it looks like you’ll be heading into the match add more jumps, jogging and ballistic movements so you’re ready for performance.
What if you’re in the match and aces are being served in a cold gym? You haven’t been moving much and your extremities are stiffening as you get colder. In this case keep moving as much as you can. Take some lateral shuffles back and forth and do some fast running on the spot. These quick bursts will mimic the demands of the match while increasing your heart rate and therefore blood-flow to the rest of your body that needs to be warmed. Some quick jump squats, skating jumps and tuck jumps will also keep you feeling explosive.
Feeling warm yet? If not, you know what to do to get warm! So get warm, activate your nervous system and stay warm and ready by following the previous tips. This will contribute to your best performance.