Get Set, Go! A Fun and Effective Warm-Up Routine for Kids’ Sports

By Rachel Long, PT, DPT

Sports are a fantastic way for kids to stay active, build confidence, and develop essential life skills. However, to ensure they have a safe and enjoyable experience, it’s crucial to start each practice or game with a proper warm-up routine. Warming up not only helps prevent injuries but also enhances performance and prepares young athletes mentally. In this blog, we’ll explore a dynamic and fun warm-up routine specifically designed for kids participating in various sports.

Light Cardio (5 minutes)

Begin the warm-up with a light cardio activity to get the blood pumping and increase heart rate. Choose activities suitable for the sport, such as:

Jumping Jacks: A classic exercise that engages the entire body and elevates heart rate.

Running in Place: Simple and effective for warming up leg muscles.

UIHigh Knees: Encourage kids to lift their knees towards their chests while jogging in place.

Dynamic Stretching (5 minutes)

Dynamic stretching helps improve flexibility and prepares the muscles for the movements required in sports. Guide kids through the following dynamic stretches:

Arm Circles: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and make small forward and backward arm circles.

Leg Swings:   Standing on one foot, swing the opposite leg forward and backward, then switch to the other leg.

Walking Lunges with Trunk Rotation:  Hold fists close to chest.  Step right foot forward into lunge and rotate trunk to your right, keeping arms close to chest.  Return to center and step left foot forward into lunge, while rotating to the left.  Continue moving forward alternating legs (with each step forward you are rotating toward your front leg).

Walking Zombies:  Hold arms out and do straight leg kicks to touch hands while walking forward.

Hip Rotations: Stand with hands on hips and rotate the hips in a circular motion.

Sport-Specific Drills (10 minutes)

Tailor the warm-up to the specific sport your kids are playing. These sport-specific drills mimic game movements and help improve skills:

Soccer: Practice dribbling the ball around cones, passing, and taking shots on goal.

Basketball: Work on dribbling, layups, and shooting from different positions on the court.

Tennis: Perform forehand and backhand swings, practice volleys, and footwork drills.

Baseball/Softball: Do some light throwing and catching, practice batting with a coach or teammate.

Fun Games

Kids respond well to fun and engaging activities, so include some games to make the warm-up enjoyable:

Relay Races: Divide kids into teams and organize relay races with various movements like running, skipping, and hopping.

Animal Walks: Pretend to be animals and move like frogs, bears, crabs, or penguins across the field.

Cool Down (3-5 minutes)

After the intense warm-up, it’s essential to bring the heart rate down gradually and stretch again:

Slow Jogging: Have the kids jog slowly for a few minutes to cool down.

Warming up is a fundamental aspect of any kids’ sports activity. It not only reduces the risk of injuries but also enhances their overall performance. By incorporating dynamic stretching, sport-specific drills, and fun activities, kids can be better prepared to participate safely and enthusiastically in their favorite sports. So, let’s get those little athletes ready to shine on the field with a fun and effective warm-up routine!

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