Every year, I have a battle with incoming athletes to my track program.  The battle is me telling them to wear sweats during practice and them not doing it.  

It could be 40 degrees, but if the sun is out, you will see athletes wanting to wear a t-shirt and shorts during the workout.  It drives me batty.

I’m not sure why these young athletes don’t want to stay warm.  Or, for whatever reason they feel they are warm enough.  I think it boils down partly to sheer laziness about wearing more clothes.

I will watch athletes enter my facility having left their cars with maybe a long sleeve t-shirt on and shorts.  It will be 32 degrees out, but they all say the same thing.  I’m just walking from my car into the facility.  I’ll be fine.

Personally, I’m convinced this is part of the problem why these athletes get so sick during the winter. Or maybe not so sick, but sick too often.

But, I digress.  That isn’t the point of this post.  The point isn’t even to discuss what the best type of warmup may be.  It is too discuss why you need to wear sweats or cover your body when you are not participating in your game, on the bench, however you want to look at it.

You ever notice when basketball players sub out and sit on the bench, most of them usually put their jacket back on (or at least their shooting shirt) and their pants?  They are inside in a temperature controlled environment and doing that.

Or pitchers, when they come out they might put a jacket on or the very least cover their pitching arm with a towel.

Look, I understand there are temperatures where it is very comfortable wearing little clothes to workout in.  But, even when it is potentially that warm, you should probably start off with lighter clothing to cover your exposed skin until you are thoroughly warmed up.

I go to the state track meet every year.  That is in early June and typically pretty warm.  Most of those athletes keep their sweats on for most of the time during their warmups.  Up until they are about to run their race.  Watch it next time you go.

I’m not suggesting you do this because I’m sadistic and want you to overheat.  I’m suggesting you do this to give your body the proper chance to perform to the best of your abilities.  The only way you can do this is by making sure your muscles are warm.

Warm muscles are going to be FAST muscles.  Trust me on this.

It will also reduce the chances of you pulling a muscle.  If the muscles are warm, they can function better thus a slimmer chance of you pulling it.  

The temperature drops slightly or a wind picks up, you need to have your sweats handy to keep yourself as warm as possible.  A light sweat is not going to kill you.

Most good athletes don’t take their sweats off unless they absolutely need to.  You see plenty of basketball players taking their sweats off just before the starting lineups are being announced.

For track athletes, the only time I tell them to take their sweats off during warmups is if they need to get their steps right for the jumps (high or long).  Or if they are practicing handoffs.  They need to be running close to meet conditions to get those steps right which means they need to practice with the sweats off.

Otherwise, they should stay on until you are about ready to start your race.  Keep the body warm and keep it loose.  Don’t expose your muscles to the weather until you are ready to compete.

I have witnessed way too many athletes who take their sweats off quick.  They cool down without even realizing it and don’t perform up to their normal standards.

Don’t be that athlete!

Keep the sweats on as long as you can.  Take them off to compete, but when you are done, put them back on as soon as you can.  None of my state champion athletes warmed up without sweats on.  If it is good enough for them, it is good enough for you.