One of the most important aspects of performing in any activity, is preparation, especially making sure we’re in the right frame of mind. The Brain is like a muscle, it too needs “stretching” before exertion. In this post we discuss the importance of warming up the whole body, ready for the exertions to come, be they in practice, or in a real game.
The Warm Up routine
Very few like training, or exercise. Even those that say they do, still need to push themselves to do it. But without it, the body and mind slide into mush.
We’re all familiar with warming up the body, where we slowly increase the activity and exertion of each of the main body parts (arms, legs) and muscle groups (back, neck). And everyone is different, and will benefit from a different set of warm up exercises. In this post we suggest a back up list, which you can use until you find what works best for you. But you should try to find that list of your own.
We also believe the brain needs warming up – how often have you heard people say “sorry I just wasn’t with it” when they make silly mistakes. This post will explore exercise that get the blood flowing to the brain, and sharpen the reflexes, which together, should make sure you’re in the right frame of mind to make that sudden snap save, or that difficult choice or decision, whether to kick or catch and who to.
We begin by re-instating the Structured Warm up, with stretches, side-to-side, shots and reverse-reflex.
1) start with 3-5 stretches,eg from the following;
- Touching your toes
- “Flamingo” stretch – pull one leg towards the body
- “Windmill” stretch – stretch towards the sky, rotate arms
- Lean into thigh
- Arm across chest, stretch with the other arm.
passing (with a teammate) the ball head high – this helps the keeper “see the ball”
from 8-10yrds while the keeper is facing the ball – gets the hands warm and the eyes to follow the ball
sharpen the reflexes – described here
Graphically, each component is described here.
In the absence of any preferred choice, the keeper should at least follow the above list.
But ideally they will come up with their own list. Add things like running forwards and backwards towards the various edges of the penalty box – 6yrd line, then the penalty spot, then the box itself and perhaps the edge of the “D”.
A structured routine, followed exactly before a game or a practice session, let’s the body (and mind) know what’s coming next. It’s amazing how important it is to communicate in this manner, with ones own body.
Incorporate the brain
Consider adding “brain exercises” into the mix, perhaps with a teammate or coach to help. For example, use number sequences to try to catch the brian out. Have you partner say a number and hold their arm out to the side. Depending on which arm they hold out, reply with the number higher or lower than the one they called.
If the partner says “six” and holds their left arm out while facing you, reply “seven”
Simple exercises like these sharpen the brain ready for the stress of games much more than you’d think, without resorting to Einstein or other great mathematicians. Keep is simple, stupid….