Many coaches and athletes are consistently searching for the best ways to improve sport performance. While there is constant debate over techniques for boosting sport specific speed, power and strength, I believe we tend to overlook the importance of a comprehensive warm-up, and the role it plays in optimizing performance in each workout, practice and game.
But what exactly is the best way to prepare an athlete for performance? For many years the accepted norm has been to perform a light warm-up followed by some static stretching (holding a stretch longer than 10-15 seconds). In fact, almost anywhere in the world you will see athletes – from schoolchildren to elite competitors – starting their activity with very low impact drills (like light jogging) followed by static stretching. It is well documented that this form of warming up is not effective in preparing the body for sport activity. Many experts now suggest that a dynamic warm-up be part of every athlete’s routine.
The specific advantages of a dynamic warm-up, by comparison with the static stretching routine, are as follows:
- It involves continuous movement, it maintains warmth in your body and muscles.
- It prepares the muscles and joints in a more sport specific manner than static stretching.
- It enhances coordination and motor ability to prepare the nervous system—benefits which are particularly important for younger athletes who are still learning how to control their bodies.
- It prepares the mind for the workout ahead. Proper mental preparation for any sport is vital and the dynamic warm-up forces the athlete to focus on technique.
In basketball, the game itself is very fast paced and requires rapid movements like cutting, jumping and sprinting. These movements often require short bursts of energy. On average, a basketball player performs a new movement approximately every 2.82 seconds.  As a result, it is important to make sure that the athletes focus on dynamic movements for flexibility and range of motion but also include sprinting and jumping.
It is well known that dynamic warm-ups can aide in reducing the risk of ACL injuries, but many studies have shown how these warm-ups can also help improve performance. One study showed that performing a dynamic warm-up routine increased vertical jump height 3.9% while another showed it improved sprint times and agility performance up to 8%.
The entire dynamic warm-up can be done in as little as 5 minutes or take as long as 20 minutes depending on the goals, age, and fitness level of the group you are working with. For more details and dynamic warm-up to try, check out this link:
For further questions related to injuries, visit athleticmedicine.org or call 612-672-7100 to schedule an appointment with one of our lower extremity experts!
Author: Erika Sandell-Savor DPT, SCS
 Matthew et. al. Journal of Sports Sciences, 2009, 27(8), 813-821