Some coaches are adamant about having a thorough warm-up before workouts, practices and competitions. The athletes are organized, follow their progressions and execute with efficiency and discipline. Others take a more laid back approach and let the athletes toss the ball around and warm-up at their own pace. The purpose of the warm-up however is not limited to mental preparation as the physiological effects of a proper warm-up can have a very meaningful impact on reducing injury potential and increasing athletic performance. A warm-up of sufficient intensity will get the tissues warm, improving range of motion, movement quality and enhancing blood flow. Inclusion of plyometric exercises, sprints and jumps may also create a potentiating effect on the nervous system, facilitating transient increases in sprinting and explosive ability.
A new study published ahead of print in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness evaluated the effects of adding plyometrics to a traditional warm-up on 20 and 40 m sprint performance. On two separate occasions, 10 male track and field athletes were tested in the 40 m sprint with a 20 m split time. On each occasion, the sprint tests were preceded by either a traditional warm-up, or a traditional warm-up plus plyometrics. The control and intervention warm-ups were administered in random order to control for order effects. The plyometric intervention consisted of multiple sets of squat jumps while holding an 11.2 kg weight plate. The load was approximately 12-8 – 16.6% of each athlete’s body weight.
The results showed that sprint times for both 20 m (p<0.05) and 40 m (p<0.01) were significantly faster following the warm-up with plyometrics. The effect sizes were considered small to moderate (ES = 0.46 for 20 m and 0.41 for 40 m). These results are not surprising, but may be enlightening to coaches unfamiliar with the research in this area. This study, among others, demonstrate that inclusion of a potentiating stimulus (i.e., weighted jump squats, depth jumps etc.) result in an acute increase in sprinting speed. Given the often critical role that speed has in most team sports, incorporating these drills into the warm-ups certainly warrant consideration.
Creekmur, CC., et al. Effects of plyometrics performed during warm-up on 20 and 40 meter sprint performance. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, In press.