Written by Sandra Sorgini, Physical Health Educator, Body Transformation Coach
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Sport Warm Up: The 3 Phase Warmup

  1. Dynamic and Continuous Movements
  2. Neural Preparation 
  3. Technical Preparation

Phase 1: Dynamic and Continuous Movements:

GOAL: to increase athletes’ heart rate, muscle temperature, range of motion in joints for agility and flexibility

Hip openers (Gate openers) 

Activates the psoas muscle which is an all-important muscle group located through your pelvis, lower back, and femur.

Start with your feet hip-width apart, and transfer your weight to your right side. Lift your left knee up and across your body to hip height or higher, then abduct to the left, opening your hip as far as you can without over-stretching—this opens the gate. 

Then reverse the motion, adducting the leg in and back to the starting position to close that gate.

Pro Tip: Perform this slowly and keep your hips forward throughout

High Kick

Warms up the hamstrings and improves range of motion.

Start with your right leg, extend your left arm straight out. Kick your leg up while keeping your leg and hand straight so that your toes hit your palm. Swing leg down and repeat with the other leg and arm.

Pro Tip:  Try to progressively kick higher while staying under control.

High Knees 

In this stretch the legs and core are emphasized.

Start standing with feet hip distance apart. Lift the right knee as high as it will go and raise the left arm. Then switch quickly so the left knee is up before the right foot lands. Continue pulling knees up quickly.

Butt Kicks

Targets hamstrings, glutes and quads to optimize running performance.

Start standing tall and bring one heel off the floor to your glutes. The opposite hand comes to your shoulder like running arms. Then switch to the other side

Pro Tip: your thighs shouldnt move as you lift your heel

Lunge with a Twist

A combination of two different moves: a forward lunge and a horizontal twist. The forward lunge activates the glutes, hips and legs and stretches the hip flexors while the twist activates the core and stretches the middle and upper back.

Step forward with your left leg into a lunge position, then drop your hips. Slowly twist toward the outside of your front leg for a more intense hip flexor stretch. Bring your back foot to the front foot and step forward with the other leg, twisting your upper body to the outside of your front leg.

Shuffles (sideways and forward and backward) 

Hip flexors, hips, thighs and legs

Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart, bend your hips and knees back and point your toes forward. Lower your body into a squat position with your knees over your ankles. Look straight ahead, keep your chest up and your back straight. Take a few quick steps to the side for a certain distance. Repeat on the other side sideways.

Pro Tip: you can shuffle sideways, forwards and backwards.  When playing sports that require quick directional changes, shuffling in all directions will prepare you for all directions you will go in game situations.


Perform the steps in a chain multiple times. Perfect for sports that require quick changes of direction or lateral movements to improve footwork and cardiovascular performance.

Stand sideways to the direction of travel. Cross your right foot over your left.  With your right foot across your body and over your left foot, allowing your hips to open to the left, too. Here, your legs are in a crossed position. Step with your left foot to uncross your legs. To unpretzel yourself, step to the left with your left foot while keeping your right foot planted. Your legs should no longer be crossed. Cross your right leg behind you. Now with your left foot planted, step with your right foot behind your body. Your legs will again be crossed. This time, you should allow your hips to open to the right. Step again with your left foot to return to the starting position. Maintain contact with the ground with your right foot and step to the left with your left foot. This uncrosses your legs, returning you to your beginning stance. 

Pro Tip: Pump your arms in alternating swings as you would when running. This upper-body action will promote fluid movement and transition from one step to the next.

Phase 2: Neural Preparation:

Incorporating neural activation drills allows us to wake up our nervous system before we start playing sports or strength training. In order to activate a muscle, a neuron must fire a signal to our brain. Neurons are nerve cells that build up our nervous system.

GOAL: to increase intensity of movement for a short duration when athletes perceive a change in environment. Have a visual stimuli and an action associated with that visual so when the athletes see the visual they perform the paired action and this requires thinking about and focusing on the task based on what is presented to them.

Identify three visual stimuli such as three coloured cones. The coach holds up a cone with a corresponding colour and this will require the athletes to respond according to the expectation (a set level of intensity for a five yard sprint) for that particular colour cone. Set a yellow cone at a 30% sprint, a blue cone at a 50% sprint and a red cone at a full out 100% sprint.  When the coach raises a particular coloured cone it will require the athletes to notice the colour then respond with the appropriate level of intensity in their five yard sprint.

Phase 3: Technical Preparation

Technical skills are how athletes in different sports move their bodies to achieve certain targets. Every sport has its own set of a wide range of technical skills.The goal of technical skills is to execute a movement to the best of the athlete's ability.  Focusing on these skills in the warmup prepares the athlete to effectively perform them in the game situation.

GOAL: for players to get a touch on the ball, play at relative game speed for a short duration. 

Design a small sided scrimmage with two teams. Include specific scoring parameters such as a box or triangle made with cones as goals or even create gates to pass the ball through to a teammate.

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