Sports Training & Conditioning Zone!

The Dynamic Warmup

By Milo Bryant

In my previous article, we talked about skipping and its importance as an assessment tool for the strength and conditioning professional. At the Coalition for Launching Active Youth (C.L.A.Y), skipping is one of the fundamental movement skills. Every young athlete who comes through our program goes through that assessment.

Remember, skipping is a critical aspect of the locomotor gamut. It's a signpost that points toward the abilities the athlete will have with efficiently performing higher-intensity, cross-patterning activities.

Today we talk about the two assessments we use for total-body coordination: Throwing and Kicking.

Both seem simple enough on the surface. Delve deeper, and we see there is a progression with both that mirrors the body's ability to be efficient in many other rotary activities.

Throwing

The throwing assessment shows the fitness professional the athlete's ability to properly sequence the body to cause a maximum amount of energy to be expelled through the hand or through instruments the hand is holding.

Understand, however, that throwing and pitching are different animals. Throwing is not outcome based; pitching is. We observe the body's movement  instead of the where the ball goes when we assess throwing.

As with all of our assessments we want to see this with both sides of the body: the dominant and non-dominant side. Some athletes will feel goofy, embarrassed or inadequate having to throw with the non-dominant side. The fitness professional should inform the athlete that as the efficiency increases with the non-dominant side, the overall ability also increases.

To assess: Instruct the athlete to throw three tennis balls to a predetermined target with the right arm. The athlete then throws with the left arm. Note the dominant side, but assess individually.

What to look for:
Beginners – Feet will remain stationary, and the trunk will flex to create the power for the movement. There will be little to no rotation of the trunk during the throw. Feet will be pointing toward the target and there will be no weight transfer.

Intermediate – The trunk is parallel to the target line. There is a trunk-block rotation with the movement, so no disassociation between lower and upper body.  There is a slight weight shift, but the foot on the side of the throwing arm usually steps forward during the throw instead of remaining back for balance.

Advanced – The trunk is parallel to the target line. There is hip-lead throwing pattern that shows disassociation between the upper and lower body. The non-throwing arm is a used as a balance mechanism. There is an opposite-foot step coordinated with the throwing arm. The throwing arm finishes with a large follow through.

Equipment needed:
• Field
• Baseball/Tennis Ball/Whiffle Ball

Kicking

The kicking assessment shows the fitness professional the athlete's ability to properly sequence the body to cause a maximum amount of energy to be expelled through the foot or into the instrument the foot is contacting.

As with all of our assessments we want to see this with both sides of the body: the dominant and non-dominant side. Some athletes will feel goofy, embarrassed or inadequate having to throw with their non-dominant sides. The fitness professional should inform the athlete that as the efficiency increases with the non-dominant side, the overall ability will increase, too.

To assess: Instruct the athlete to kick three soccer/kickballs to a predetermined target with the right foot. The athlete then kicks with the left foot. Note the dominant side, but assess individually.

What to look for:
Beginner – The athlete will try to take a step-kick approach to the movement, and may miss or top the ball. The plant foot may be pointed in a direction well off the target line. The athlete loses balance during the swing.

Intermediate – The athlete takes a step-kick approach  and connects with a "toe punch" method. Arms flail to the sides to help maintain balance, and there may be a slight backward lean on the finish.

Advanced – The athlete takes a multiple-step approach before kicking with the instep or top of the foot (near the bottom of the shoe laces). The plant foot points into the direction the athlete wants to kick. There is a slight lean-in at impact to give the athlete more power. The follow through sees the athlete kick and land with the same foot.

Equipment needed:
• Field
• Soccer Ball/Kick Ball

Dynamic Warmup Exercises

Skipping – this exercise is a higher level of the cross crawling pattern. The opposing sides of the body should be synchronized.
- Right hand forward; left foot forward
- Left hand forward; right foot forward
- No swaying or leaning to one side; torso should be tall and straight
- Arms are loose or bent, not straight and stiff
- Step-hop, step-hop rhythm should be continuous

Hopping – this exercise prepares the athlete to begin full-body coordination.
- Right hand forward, left knee (momentum) forward
- Left hand forward, right knee (momentum) forward
- Arms should be bent as if in a running position
- The action support foot should land on the "ball" of the foot each time
- The momentum leg should swing by the support leg in both directions
- Torso should be vertical or within three degrees of vertical

Shuffling – this exercise prepares the athlete to begin full-body weight shifting
- Feet should always face perpendicular to the direction of travel
- No squatting or hands to the sides; this isn't a stereotypical basketball drill
- Head always faces straight
- Torso tall, always facing straight
- Arms swing in coordination with the feet
- The whole foot should land, not just the "ball" of the foot
- Feet should never touch
- Feet should hop and not slide

High Knees – this exercise prepares the athlete for explosive movements
- Right hand forward; left knee up
- Left hand forward; right knee up
- Femur should be above parallel to running surface
- Ankles should be fully dorsiflexed (foot point upward)
- Torso should be vertical or within three degrees of vertical
- Arms should be bent at angle that they never leave
- Hands should swing from "cheek to cheek"

Butt Kicks – this exercise prepares the athlete for explosive movements
- Right hand forward; left knee up
- Left hand forward; right knee up
- Femur should be above parallel to running surface
- Ankles should be fully dorsiflexed (foot point upward)
- Torso should be vertical or within three degrees of vertical
– Arms should be bent at angle that they never leave
- Hands should swing from "cheek to cheek"
- When the heel reaches the butt the femur should be parallel to the running surface

A Skips – this exercise prepares the athletes body for high-intensity rhythmic movements
- Right hand forward; left knee up
- Left hand forward; right knee up
- Femur should be above parallel to running surface when the heel reaches the butt
- Ankles should be fully dorsiflexed (foot point upward)
- Torso should be vertical or within three degrees of vertical
- Arms should be bent at angle that they never leave
- Hands should swing from "cheek to cheek"
- "Ball" of foot should "explode" into the ground on each contact (from elevation)

Stiff-leg Bounds – this exercise prepares the athlete's body to have as little ground contact time as possible – and generate as much force as possible
- Right hand forward; left foot forward
- Left hand forward; right foot forward
- Legs remain stiff; no knee bend
- Arms should be bent at an angle that they never leave
- Hands should swing from "cheek to cheek"
- "Ball" of the foot should explode into the ground on each contact
- Torso is vertical; no leaning back
- Leg "kicks" should be quick

Stiff-leg Bounds Alternate Leg/Fast Leg – this exercise prepares the athlete's body to have a little ground contact time as possible – and generate as much force as possible
- Right hand forward; left foot forward
- Left hand forward; right foot forward
- Femur should be above parallel to running surface
- Ankles should be fully dorsiflexed (foot point upward)
- "Reach out" with the foot; don't "kick out"
- Torso is vertical; no leaning back
- Arms should be bent at angle that they never leave
- Hands should swing from "cheek to cheek"
- No stopping; athlete should work through awkward motor patterning – this is the brain learning
- No frustration or embarrassment "you haven't done this enough to be embarrassed"

Walking Hamstring – this exercise prepares the athlete's body to properly hinge at the hips
- Heel of front foot is about eight (8) inches in front of the toe
- Front leg is straight; rear leg bent
- Both feet point in same direction
- Torso remains straight
- Hinge at the hips; don't bend at the waist
- Hinge until just before back bends
- Take a couple of steps while standing tall and shake out legs before switching front and rear feet
- Keep spinal alignment – even in the cervical spine
- Hips should be level

Walking Hamstring (Inverted)
- Hands should be out to the sides, palms up
- Support leg should be slightly bent
- Body should be a in a straight line from shoulder to heel
- Hips should closed (neutral to internal rotation on the support leg)
- Neck should remain neutral, don't look head
- Movement should be fluid – body doesn't come to a stop at any point
- Support foot should have pressure on whole foot, not just "ball" of foot

Walking Leg Kicks – this exercise prepares the athlete's body for dynamically intense hip mobility on one side and higher-level stability on the other side
- Right hand forward; left foot forward
- Left hand forward; right foot forward
- Kicking leg stays straight; no knee bend
- Kicking leg comes back to bottom of swing a the knee bends allowing the heel to come up to the butt
- Foot of kicking leg leaves butt comes down and becomes the stepping and stable leg
- Foot of stable leg remains on ground; no heel lift
- Maintain integrity of the spine; no arcing the lower back

Lunge Reaching Up – this exercise prepares the athlete's body for multi-joint mobility and stability in the saggittal plane and presence of gravity
- Feet start and remain shoulder width apart – even when stepping out
- Front knee and rear knee should be at about a 90-degree angle
- Pressure should be on front heel and rear toes
- Drop the back knee when descending; don't push front knee forward
- Torso is vertical
- Push up arms with palms toward the sky; don't raise arms
- Full decent before pushing up arms
- Humerus should be behind the ear
- Push up through the front heel when standing
- Take a couple of steps while standing tall and shake out legs before switching the legs

Lunge Twisting – this exercise prepares the athlete's body for multi-joint mobility and stability in the saggittal plane and presence of gravity
- Feet start and remain shoulder width apart – even when stepping out
- Front knee and rear knee should be at about a 90-degree angle
- Pressure should be on front heel and rear toes
- Drop the back knee when descending; don't push front knee forward
- Torso is vertical
- Twist toward the knee that is up
- Full decent before twisting
- Head should turn as far as possible, too
- Push up through the front heel when standing
- Take a couple of steps while standing tall and shake out legs before switching the legs

Walking Quadriceps – this exercise prepares the athlete's body for single-leg stability in dynamic situations
- Distinct movements – foot to butt – then push up arm
- Push the hand skyward; don't raise it
- Make sure the palm faces the sky/ceiling
- Torso is vertical, no arcing of the lumbar spine
- Posterior tilt to hit more of the hip flexor
- Stable foot remains flat on ground
- Take a couple of steps, and shake out legs between movements

Walking Quad-to-Glute – this exercise prepares the athlete's body for single-leg stability in dynamic situations
- Distinct movements – foot to butt – then push up arm
- Push the hand skyward; don't raise it
- Make sure the palm faces the sky/ceiling
- Torso is vertical, no arcing of the lumbar spine
- Posterior tilt to hit more of the hip flexor
- Stable foot remains flat on ground
- Hands under the knees and "pull up" not "back" into the body
- Take a couple of steps and shake out legs between movements

Walking Glute – this exercise prepares the athlete's body for single-leg stability in dynamic situations and gives the
- Grab the shin near the ankle and near the tibial tuberosity
- Pull shin straight up
- Torso tall and vertical
- Try to make the shin level
- Take a couple of steps, and shake out legs between movements

Internal/External Hip Rotations – this exercise prepares the body's lower body mobility
- Torso tall and vertical
- Torso stays straight
- Thighs beyond parallel
- One, two, threefour when going backward

Carioca – this exercise prepares the athlete's body for multi-joint mobility and stability
- Get good knee lift
- Bend arms – a modified running motion
- Quick feet
- Spring off the balls of the feet
- Good hip turn

Frankie Skips – this exercise prepares the athlete's body for explosive movement
- Right hand forward; left foot forward
- Left hand forward; right foot forward
- Stiff legs
- Good arm swing

Power Skips – this exercise prepares the athlete's body for explosive movement
- Get up not out!
- Get up not out!
- Get up not out!
- Step then explode.
- Right hand high; left knee forward
- Left hand high; right knee forward



Coach Milo is the founder of the Coalition for Launching Active Youth (C.L.A.Y.), whose mission is to encourage childhood physical activity and healthier lifestyles by giving youth trainers, youth coaches and youth community leaders the tools needed to facilitate effective and fun athletic- and movement-specific programs for all ages.

To find out more about C.L.A.Y. and the C.L.A.Y. Coach Certification, contact Coach Milo at movingthefuture@gmail.com.