Jumping into a race or heading to a pitcher’s mound without the proper warmup can be a big mistake for a high school athlete.
Whether you’re a distance runner, shot putter, pitcher or outfielder, pre-game stretching and loosening up can lead to throwing strikes, delivering that clutch base hit or winning three races in a track and field meet.
Brewer High School athletic trainer Phil Mateja offers some valuable advice to getting that proper warmup.
Q. What is the proper way for a distance runner to warm up prior to a race?
A. Starting slower, you have to make sure you’re loose but you have to make sure you don’t just jump in or you’re going to pull a muscle. Some people haven’t done anything for a while. We’ve had some weird weather, so you have to be smart.
Q. Sprinters tend to recover quicker than distance runners, but generally have trials and finals a half-hour apart. How would they stay sharp?
A. Muscles do stay warm (but) they do shorten, so you’ve got to stay loose especially this time of year. It can be real nice and then the wind changes and the temperature changes and you’re in trouble.
Q. Why can a proper warmup probably be more crucial for pitchers than any other spring sport athlete?
A. People don’t realize you can’t just pick up a ball and throw, you’ve got to stretch. You can’t just say, it’s 70 degrees in June and go ahead and say, I’m loose. The temperature change and the wind change can make a heck of a difference whether an arm is ready or not.
Q. Is it a big difference for an athlete when the temperature dips five to 10 degrees?
A. It’s amazing that you may think that arm’s ready. Kids try to go without anything on their arms. That little bit of temperature change can be a major difference in how the arm reacts to the temperature.
Q. How crucial is it for hitters to pace themselves in pre-game warmups?
A. You do some easy swings and then you go ahead and swing as hard as you can and try to really rip one, you’ve got a chance at pulling something quite easily.