Blog: Importance of the Warm-Up

Category: Sport

The warm-up plays an important role in preparing athletes for training or competition as Lead Strength & Conditioning Coach, James Davies, explains...

It can not only improve performance but massively reduce the risk of injury along with playing a key role in athletic development. The warm-up is broken down into four stages with each stage targeting specific parts of performance.

Activation- Dynamic Flexibility- Movement Integration- Neural Activation

Video: Click here to watch The Marlborough Warm-Up


The first part of the warm-up involves activation exercises that target large muscle groups that tend to be under active from spending too much time in seated positions.  The glute muscles need “waking up” to improve their function as key players within athletic movements. They are large powerful muscle groups that are needed to perform explosive movements like running, jumping and changing direction and to also control those movements such as decelerating and landing. With these muscles being under active research shows an increase in the risk of injury as the they cannot function properly in such movements.


The flexibility portion of the warm-up target an increase in range of motion of the muscles and joints, by dynamically stretching the muscles through challenging but fundamental positions which may be required in the sports, for example rucking in a rugby game requires certain body angles in order to effective.

Movement integration

Movement integration is incorporating exercises that closely mimic some of the movement demands of the sport. For sports like netball, hockey and rugby there are many sudden changes in direction, so performing exercises that target those specific movements required will help prepare the athletes to use those correct mechanics when required by the sport.

Neural activation

The last part of the warm-up which then leads into competing or training, fires up the athlete’s neuromuscular system. Running, jumping and cutting movements all require rapid coordinated muscle contractions which need the neuromuscular system to be firing efficiently. So exercises that require fast contractions are introduced, such as derivatives of jumping and sprinting which lead well into performing the whole movements and competing.

Where does this fit into the athletic development system at Marlborough College?

The warm-up serves a multitude of purposes within physical and mental preparedness. Learning and refining movement skills, injury prevention, dynamic flexibility, proprioception, performance enhancement, injury prevention and mental focus are all key points within the warm-up.

The Strength and Conditioning team use this structure for all their warm-ups in either training sessions, PE classes or preparing sports teams before their games.

James Davies
Lead Strength & Conditioning Coach

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