How to warm-up in the cold!

‘RAMP’, guidance for a good warm-up

With this cold and humid weather, a good warm-up routine is absolutely essential. Not only will it enhance your performance but it will also significantly reduce the risk of injuries.

The UK Strength and Conditioning Association outline the main objectives of a good warm up in a simple acronym – RAMP (Raise, Activate and Mobilise, Potentiate).

  • Raise – firstly, you should increase your body temperature, heart rate and respiration. Let’s start with a gentle jog, forwards and backwards, adding a split step when you change direction. After this move to side-steps and cross- overs, concentrating on maintaining a low athletic base. This part of the warm-up should be performed slowly and in full control. This is also a good time to check the conditions – i.e is the court slippery. Depending on the weather you should spend 5 to 10 minutes doing this stage, but aim for longer when the weather is colder.
  • Activate and Mobilise – secondly, you should activate your muscles and joints in a range of motions. This part of the warm up is designed around dynamic stretches and involves stretching muscles actively through functional ranges of motion in a controlled manner, gradually increasing reach and speed. All this will improve your range of motion by allowing better muscular contraction and joint lubrication. Among all the various dynamic stretches I recommend you choose the following: lateral lunges with side steps, front lunges with split step and backward lunges. Why not try 10/12 repetitions on each side with 2/3 sets with a 10-15 second rest in between.  You need to also spend a few minutes warming up your shoulders. Perform arm hugs, swing your arms forwards and backwards (flexion and extension) and bend your torso side to side whilst holding your racket overhead. Allow at least 5 minutes for these stretches.
  • Potentiate – the last stage of the warm up should be a neuromuscular trigger, which will prepare you for your actual performance. Why not start with a few controlled acceleration and deceleration drills from the baseline to the service line, gradually increasing the pace to 80/90% of your maximum speed. Repeat this 4/5 times resting for 20/25 seconds between each set. At the end of the drill perform a few sets of fast lateral steps and cross-overs. Finally grab a racket and start warming up by rallying and volleying in the service boxes and then start playing from the baseline. Spend 5 to 10 minutes doing this part depending on how much time you have.

A good warm up takes 15 to 20 minutes and by the end you should feel warm, mobile and ready to play. Try it, I guarantee you will feel the difference.

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