It’s super important to remember that fundamentally, your performance in competition is built on the quality of the training you do. How efficient and effective you are on the court; session in, session out. Week in, week out.
The quality of training you do is underpinned by a huge range of things. Everything from the food you’ve eaten over the last few days, to what’s on your mind that day, to what you’ve been doing physically, your fatigue levels, your injury status… If any of these things aren’t absolutely on point, you loose a small part of your opportunity in training to grow as a player and a person.
There’s really only one thing, probably the least considered part of your day, that governs your chance to develop and excel or crash and burn in your session. Your warm-up.
What you do in this small block of time at the start of your session has the potential to destroy your performance or elevate it beyond anywhere you’ve been before. But how much thought do you really give to what you do to get ready to train? How important is it to get this right? What does ‘getting it right’ really feel like?
This article offers some thoughts about the process of preparing yourself to perform.
I think it undersells the process of preparing, heavily. It conjures memories of those endless laps around a sports hall, the same direction every session, nothing new, nothing interesting, dull… The biggest missed opportunity in sport. However, actually getting your muscles warm is one of the key things that helps to improve your performance. The increase in your muscle temperature is thought to cause a bunch of positive physiological responses, right from loosening the muscles and joints, to faster communication between the brain and your muscles, to loading more oxygen into your system ready to help you access more energy as you go.
Here’s the challenge… You need to amp up and warm the muscles up, whilst accruing the as little fatigue as possible. This balancing act between reaching (or even over-reaching) competition intensity and avoiding unnecessary fatigue is paramount to the success of your preparation, from a purely physical and physiological standpoint.
In reality, the ‘warm-up’ is so much broader than that. It’s your opportunity to prepare for the task you’re about to complete. Whether that’s on-court, in the S&C room, or in competition. It’s your chance to ensure that you’re in the right place physically, mentally, technically, tactically, socially to endure what’s to come and end up victorious.
There’s so much advice given on this. So many fixed rules, “You HAVE to do this…” “Oh… You can’t do that…”.
You can prepare as a team, or not. You can get ready with a ball, or not. You could pepper, or run, or jump, or stretch…
Ultimately, I believe it’s simple. Your objective at the start of a session is to get yourself ready to win your session, and build a better you for the future. You need to do whatever it takes to achieve these things.
Don’t forget about the huge opportunity you have in this to improve as an athlete. To assess where you’re at on that particular day for that particular session, put in place strategies to correct anything that’s out of whack to get the most from yourself in the short-term, and develop areas of physicality or technicality that need work over the long-term.
Does your warm-up do this for you? Are you making the most of every second of training time you have?
Don’t forget about this opportunity.
Don’t miss the biggest opportunity in sport.
Interested in more advice about how you can structure your preparation to get the most out of every session, watch out for our supporting resources on processes you can follow and activities you can do to take control of your performance. Coming very soon!