Principals of Preparation


Each of the last five teams we have played with Venice volleyball have done some version of the so called movement prep. It has been interesting to watch. One team spent 18 minutes on this stuff. All at a walking temp almost at Tai Chi rhythm. Folks that does not prepare you to play a ballistic game like volleyball.

Vern’s post was again a shout of wisdom to an audience that doesn’t have a basic understanding of reason and classical laws and principals of training. The most important aspect of the warm-up is the rhythm of the movements. From my point of view we have two needs of two categories of warming-up, the competition warm-up, and the training warm-up. The training warm-up for speed and power work is very similar, although weight training has some subtle differences. A contrasting opinion is the one of Mike Boyle, a strength coach for Boston University. He proposes the following protocol:

We foam roll and static stretch for tissue change and then dynamic warm-up after. There is mounting evidence that if you want real flexibility change, don’t warm up first. We stretch for flexibility and use dynamic warm-up for warm-up. There is a place for static stretching, it just isn’t as a pre-exercise warm-up.

I strongly disagree with this sequence as it goes against many sports training principals established years ago. While I agree with the inclusion of the modalities, the order doesn’t jive with me. Like many of the so called advancements in training, this sequence and other protocols of preparing for training lost the key elements of program design. Like Obama’s motto, change sounds good and is the very popular with the masses, but refinement and evolution is what I favor. More effective ways or just a good way done differently? Here are my problems with Mike Boyle’s warm-up.

  1. Lack of movement- If you want to get better at movement move. Create pathways and better neurological circuits. Forget the computer guy we now have the lying around guy. Frankly when I see athletes on top of foam rollers before workouts looking like beached whales I ask what are they rolling? Trigger points? Where did they come from? What happened from the last workout to this one? Where they not structurally balanced or strong enough to handle the sport demands that caused the trigger points? Based on Mike’s presentation he spends 2/3rds of his time lying down. We are getting ready for training not for tanning or calendar photo shoots!
  2. Lack of warming up- When you are rolling or stretching a muscle group you are only affecting a localized area . Again this is isolated training, an approach not very time efficient and doesn’t create connections. When you are moving you are teaching coordination and releasing a cascade of internal biochemical hormones and enzymes that are released to the whole body. This happens at an alarming rate when it’s vigorous, not doing tai chi actions in walking speed. No matter how marvelous the maneuvers are on DVD they are all done at a pace that is not building up to game needs.Most key tissues are thixotropic and heat and internal chemistry must prime the organ systems properly. A vigorous warm-up saturates the body with a shower of natural chemicals that assist both physically and physiologically.
  3. Compartmentalized Organization- Not included is the mobility component that is a joint by joint approach. I have seen his athletes train in both private and collegiate settings and he does include some joint mobility exercises but like above, while one joint is getting mobile the others are just waiting in line like a popular rollar coaster. Activation work is similar to the mobility example, the actions are usually very isolated or simplified and other joints and body parts are waiting and not being prepared.If the modalities are tossed in during rest periods it’s a good use of time but it doesn’t follow his order proposed earlier, but I am not privy to research that shows that specific combination will be more effective.
  4. My suggestions, as people will bark back requesting what I do is the same for my training. Can’t be Critical Carl without an alternate plan? My suggestions is to place the static stretches after training long with the rolling but keep them minimal. Many times I increase the dose of the work on easy days that are less neural and do PNF work after high intensity days. Try to leave a workout the way you wish to start the next one! Classic coaching principal. Mobility is also a product of program design. The organizational aspects of a complete program will attack joint flow, range of motion demands, and corrective needs by the architecture, not just adding a few PT motions to a program. Based on time demands we do a few of the same drills or motions after we went through my proposed warm-up as a way to fine tune someone that may have injury histories and abnormal body structures.

Discuss entry

Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

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