Children's organized sports build confidence, develop physical skills and promote teamwork. Before the kids hit the field for any sport, they need a solid warm-up to prepare their bodies for the game. Warm-ups should also take place at the beginning of each practice. Incorporate general movements and skills specific to the sport.
The warm-up before playing a sport helps children warm up their muscles by increasing the blood flow. The body literally warms up with the core body temperature rising with the activity. The dynamic movement during the warm-up reminds the muscles of the actions they need to perform during the sport. The kids also get a chance to mentally prepare so their minds and physical actions are connected. The heart and respiration rate gradually increases to avoid the sudden shock when the intense activity of the sport begins.
Warming up before playing sports reduces the risk of injury to a child. The muscles are better able to handle the intense movements required in the game. The warm-up also allows the players to perform better. The cardiovascular system is ready for the continued activity so players are able to keep up during the game or practice. The kids are also less likely to experience sore muscles after they are finished playing the sport.
General warm-up exercise ideas include jumping jacks, arm windmills, high knees, jump roping and hopping back and forth over a line, either side-to-side or front-to-back. Partner passing works as a warm-up that incorporates specific skills from children's sports. Have soccer players dribble and pass a ball back and forth. Basketball players can practice the different types of passes. Football players throw a ball back and forth. Another option is a circuit with skills specific to the sport. For soccer, you might have the kids dribble through cones, run as they pass back and forth with a partner and kick the ball into the goal.
A warm-up for children's sports should last at least 10 minutes before the actual game begins. According to the Children's Hospital and Research Center Oakland, the blood flow increases to around 70 percent of the optimal flow in that 10 minutes. Use dynamic movements during warm-ups rather than static stretches. Stretching alone won't prepare the muscles for the physical activity of the sport. Static stretching may actually lower the amount of power in the muscles because of the relaxation caused in the muscles. Incorporate dynamic movements that focus on the particular muscle groups the kids will use during the sport.