How to Create A Warm Up That Fits your Team Culture

Posted on: on Oct 10, 2017 1:48:18 PM


Thanks to Kat Overton for the awesome pic from BFG tryouts!


This post is written by Bert Abbott. Bert is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach and USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach at the RenFitness Gym in Seattle, Washington. She’s interested in helping ultimate teams build strong cultures - literally and metaphorically!



The beginning of every practice or tournament day, most teams huddle together for a quick cheer, then start on their warm-up jog. After that, each team expresses their identity in the subtle differences with how they conduct their warm-ups.


The dynamic warm-up is often the first thing the whole team does together each time you gather, and that means that it sets the tone for your time together. Being intentional about how you warm up together will carry over to how your drills, scrimmages, and games will go.


Attributes of a Successful Warm Up

Depending on your goals for a given practice or tournament, your definition of success might shift. There are some things, however, that will always be important to accomplish in a dynamic warm-up.


1. Get The Blood Flowing

Your first priority is to raise your players' heart rates. This is especially important when it’s cold outside.


Stiff muscles and connective tissues are more likely to strain, sprain, or tear than warm ones. A warm-up jog at the beginning serves this injury-reducing step well.


2. Activate the muscles that you'll be using when you play

Activate muscles that you want to power your movements. For field sports like ultimate, specific glute and core activation are particularly important. Doing this intentionally helps you run using better technique, which increases performance and reduces risk of injury.


3. Deliberately practice movements intrinsic to ultimate

When you’re on the field, you’ll need to run, jump, change direction, and pivot. Take time in warm-ups to move your body through the full range of these motions to train your muscles and remind yourself how to do these movements.


For example, if you practice decelerating using your glutes, when you go to change direction on the field, you’ll remember that ingrained movement pattern and absorb force in your muscles (which is good) rather than in the ligaments of your knee (which is bad).


4. Intentionally set a tone for the rest of day

Warm-up plays an outsized role in your team's mentality, energy, and focus. You can choose to make that work for you!


As a captain or team leader, you can choose to set the tone during the warm-up. Use this time to create the mindset you want the team to have throughout your practice or game.


If your main goal is to feel connected with your teammates, you may choose to set up so you can make eye contact with each other, warming up in a circle.


If focus is your primary aim, try warming up in a few groups following a line leader. This makes it easier to hear instruction and see what the leader is doing for each exercise in the warm-up.


If your team is all about lighthearted fun, you could use the Colombian National Team a model. They're notorious for their dance warm-up. It's a joyous way to live their team culture, and set themselves up for a successful tournament day. It's also proof that you don't need to have a "serious" warm-up if you want to win games. Colombia one of the best teams in the world.




There are a wide range of warm-up routines that you can draw from, but the best ones focus on the following muscle groups and movement patterns:


  • An initial jog to get the blood flowing and raise the temperature of your muscles.

  • Slow movement through the full range of motion of your hips, ankles, hamstrings, and shoulders.

  • Specific glute and core activation.

  • Components of sprinting and top speed running mechanics that help you strike with the ball of your foot and extend fully at the hip, knee, and ankle on each stride.

  • Components of deceleration and landing mechanism that direct forces into the muscles of your posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings) to decelerate and wake up your knee stabilizers.

  • Footwork and agility drills, including ones that get you twisting your hips and moving your legs across your body.

  • Acceleration drills to get you up to game-speed.


Here's a quick list of routines that meet these criteria: 


RenFitness Dynamic Warm Up - $10

If you want an ultimate-specific warm developed by certified strength and conditioning coaches, look no further! 


Here's Ren giving a preview:



You can purchase the RenFitness Dynamic Warm-Up video here, or you can become a Virtual Gym Member to receive personal service from RenFitness coaches!



RISE UP Season 8 - Part 1: $19, Part 2: $15

If you're looking for something that goes beyond a simple warm-up plan, you can check out Season 8 of RISE UP.


It's hosted by Ren Caldwell, owner of the RenFitness Gym, so it includes most of the elements of the dynamic warm up listed above, but this season adds on drills for improving top-end speed, acceleration, deceleration, and changes of direction.


Find them here: Part 1 // Part 2



Travis Dodd's Ultimate Activation Video - Free!

Travis Dodd is a physiotherapist in British Columbia, who has worked with the ladies from Traffic and the UBC Thunderbirds.


If you're not looking to pay for a warm-up, then his Ultimate Activation Video is a great place to start. This 10 minute video will show you how to activate your muscles, but it isn't a complete warm-up routine. 


over to you!

What's your team's warm-up routine? Got more tools or tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!


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