I try to make it out to as many games possible that my athletes play in.  That being said, I can usually tell the type of effort my athlete will give during a game based on what I see during the warmups.

Part of my mission with athletes is to teach them what it means to be an athlete.  This includes how do you practice and what exactly does it mean to practice the way you play?

A lot of kids don’t understand that, especially younger kids.  The fun part is the game and that is where they think they are trying hard.  But, if they haven’t practiced that way for a certain amount of consistency, then really they are just going hard in spurts.

They have to give a good effort all the time during practice and it starts with the warmups.

If you watch your athlete’s warmup and see these things, I would get it corrected immediately:

  • Most warmups have a start point and an end point. Do they start in front of the start point and finish their warmup before the end point (thus shortening the distance they actually warmed up)?
  • Not that this necessarily means they are doing the warmup wrong, but do they fly through the warmups and get done real fast?
  • When the coach isn’t looking do they skip certain drills during the warmup? Possibly the ones that they don’t like.
  • Let’s be honest, do their warmups look like they are half-a$$ing them or are they very meticulous on how they do each and every drill?

As a coach, you have to set the tone for your athlete’s work ethic early and often.  Just because you explain it once doesn’t mean that the athlete understands it right then and there.  You need to change their habit and sometimes it takes around 6 weeks to create a positive habit.

The athletes that are truly successful typically are the best practice players and it starts with the warmup.  They give total concentration on each drill and don’t look lazy when doing them.  I don’t think I have to describe what lazy looks like.  Most of us know it when we see it.

You see any of the above issues during a warmup, call that athlete out.  You seem them not doing a drill the way you want, stop them and have them do it over again correctly.  Don’t let them get away with anything.  You are setting up habits that they can do when they are at practice.  That will impress their sport coach.

Also, if they are with friends and chatting away, you need to pay special attention to how the warmup is getting done.  They quickly lose focus on the warmup and more on what they saw on social media.

Some people may say this is overkill.  I disagree.  The warmup sets the stage for your practice and/or game.  I’m not saying you will have an awesome practice or game each and every time you have a great warmup.  But, you should have awesome effort in that practice or game because you are focused doing a great warmup.

If you can’t teach them how to give a good effort during the warmup and then into practice, how are they going to know how to do it come game time.  The phrase “he’s a gamer” usually doesn’t apply to a 12 year old athlete who hasn’t figured it out yet.

You’ll see it in their games.  They will run hard in spots.  Then they jog around or they will do something kind of half speed.  Maybe they are getting tired.  Or maybe because they haven’t been giving a consistent hard effort in practice they haven’t developed the conditioning they need.  Or maybe they felt that was their hard effort.

Trust me, your athletes think they are doing a great warmup when you can clearly see they are not.  TAKE VIDEO OF THEM.

Video is powerful.  Just video their warmups and pull them aside and say was this your best effort?  Was this a great warmup?

Keep on your athletes to do the best warmup possible and pretty soon you will have some athletes who are accountable and giving more of an effort in their training and practices.