Answer me this one question;
How many kids under the age of 12 have you seen pull up with a hamstring injury?
The answer will be and should be not many. In-fact, even right up to the ages of 15/16 you shouldn’t be having many youngsters on your injury list.
The only child I have ever come across with a hamstring injury that young was my younger brother. But I would put that down to the fact my Dad used to expect way too much of him.
My point of that question was not to tell you to stop doing warm ups – in fact I would never recommend that – but it was rather to highlight that warm ups don’t only decrease the risk of injury.
Simply telling children “you must warm up so you don’t get injured’ isn’t enough
At the start of most sessions, I sit the kids down and talk to them about why the body needs to warm up, and how the blood moves round the body to our working muscles. I have year 1’s (5 and 6 years olds) that can now tell me about what happens to their body when they start warming up, they can tell me about oxygenated and de-oxygenated blood, and they can also tell me three different reason why we need to warm up.
Firstly they tell me the obvious one; to reduce the risk of injury or in their words ‘So we don’t get injured!’
I’ve explained to them the ‘elastic band theory’, where if you pull an elastic band too quickly it will snap, but if they warm it up first then it is less likely to snap.
They know that if I don’t warm up and they don’t warm up that I will probably get injured before they will, but they also know……
….How to get to get into a good habit, or as they like to say “so we know what to do when we get big!”
This is the second reason I walk them through. They know that the chances of them getting a serious injury like David Beckham or Wayne Rooney would is very slim, but they know if they don’t get into the habit of warming up now then they might ‘forget’ or become lazy when they get older ……(that’s when the actions and laughter come in)
Talking about forgetting and getting lazy, that’s where our 3rd reason for warming up comes in…..
To prepare them mentally, or like the kids would say “To get our brains ready!”
I cannot stress the importance of a proper warm up to engage a young brain. In my opinion for kids under the ages of 12 – certainly under the ages of 10 – preparing the mind is the best outcome you can have after doing a warm up.
Kids get bored and lose interest very quickly – a great maximum participation warm could pull their minds back on task.
Take this example…
You have a class for an hours PE straight after lunch time. Throughout the whole morning they’ve been doing English and math, and they’ve just spent the last hour outside running around. How do you get them to engage in your session, and ultimately have fun?
Well firstly you already have the upper hand, as a lot of the children will already be looking forward to PE. But even the most motivated kids will struggle at times. So the best way I have found is to do a game I know they all love – individual dodge ball normally does the trick
Now the key to getting this right is to introduce this game and the rules long before you want to start using it as an engagement tool.
I have found that, by doing games such as individual dodge ball as a warm up before going into my main session the concentration levels of the students are higher.
Now of course this is not always the case, if someone’s going to mess around – their going to mess around. There’s nothing you can do about that.
But if you have the kids engaged and having fun they’re more likely listen to what you have to say later on in the session.
Again, it all comes down to fun.
If your sessions are dead boring, you’ll find it pretty hard to keep yourself smiling let alone the kids.
So if you’re not enjoying the session, there’s a pretty good chance the class won’t be either.