Preparing your mind and body for peak performance
“But in your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have...” 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
Have you ever been caught off-guard and missed an opportunity to share your faith? I have. And each time it has happened I have become more determined to “always be prepared.” Peter speaks often of preparation. And he knows that the only way a believer can be fully ready to defend the faith is if he is prepared.
In the May issue of STV, we discussed the importance of the right nutrition for training or competition. But perhaps an equally important indicator of performance on the field is how an athlete warms up.
|The following three movements are some examples for beginners and can be included as part of a Dynamic Warm-Up. For more advanced moves, go to www.fcafitness.org.
1. Walking High Step – While standing, start with your arms at your side and bent at 90 degrees. Bring your left knee up to your right elbow and repeat on the alternate side. Your knee should be raised to just below lower chest level. Stay on your toes and move forward for 10–15 yards at a moderate pace. Repeat four times.
2. Back Pedal – Run backwards for 10–15 yards while slightly exaggerating your stride length. Repeat four times.
3. Lateral Shuffle – Stand in the athletic position with knees bent slightly at shoulder-width apart. Move your right leg away from the left and then bring the left in to meet the right leg and repeat (do not cross your legs) for 10–15 yards. Repeat in the opposite direction. Repeat four times.
If athletes fail to warm up properly, they are not only at a much greater risk for injury, but their speed, strength, coordination and mental focus also are compromised. The old-school approach of having athletes run a couple of laps around the field and then come together for 10 minutes of static stretching (and cool-down) usually results in athletes who are cold both physically and mentally and completely unprepared for the dynamic movements required by their sport.
The Dynamic Warm-Up process is designed to fully prepare the athlete for sports-specific movements. Mark Verstegen, in his book Core Performance, calls this process “Movement Prep.” The most effective Dynamic Warm-Up contains both a general warm-up and a specific warm-up. This type of warm-up will facilitate the following benefits:
• elevated core body temperature.
• increased blood flow and oxygen utilization.
• increased elasticity of connective tissue.
• an engaged central nervous system, which improves muscle recruitment.
• improved flexibility, stability, range of motion and balance.
• reduced risk of injury.
• increased mental readiness and focus.
The general warm-up consists of 5-10 minutes of low-intensity aerobic activity. Depending on your sport, this could be a light jog, jumping rope or cycling. This helps to gradually increase blood flow and heart rate, increase oxygen consumption, elevate body temperature and prepare your muscles and joints for the specific warm-up.
The specific warm-up consists of movements that activate muscle groups and mirror movements that an athlete will encounter in game situations. These movements are designed to gradually prepare the athlete for competition by moving muscle groups through the ranges of motion that will be required in the game, but at a lower intensity.
Remember, the goal of any warm-up is to fully prepare each athlete for the demands of competition. Being prepared mentally and physically will give you an edge in competition and in life!