Your Guide to Warming-Up and Cooling-Down

Check out the video above to see National Team, World Team, and Olympic Team members doing their warm-ups and cool-downs! 

The warm up before competition is important and critical to have before you compete. As you go through the normal routine that is typically repeated from practice, we tend to forget that it doen't end there. For those athletes who have multiple rounds, or have to wait long periods of time after their warm up before their competition begins, it becomes even more crucial to make sure we are paying attention to our bodies, and what it needs in order to compete.

The Re-Warm Up

The re-warm up can come in different forms for different athletes and at all varying levels of sport. I always say simple is best. There have been studies that show that an athlete is better able to compete and react best when their heart rate is already a bit elevated before they begin. And that means more than just the intense beat of your heart from nerves. 

This can be achieved in the re-warm up with short twitch, dynamic movements in-between walking, pacing, or sitting. If you watch in the video, the ladies are in tune with their heart rate and how they want to feel before they walk out on the mat. They watch the competition happening in front of them, and give their bodies a moment to shake out or include dynamic movements. That helps remind your mind and body that it will be ready to perform extremely athletic feats.

The re-warm up that comes later in the day after you have already competed may need to contain a few more short bursts of movement that you did earlier in the morning. Your mind and body fatiguing as the competition day moves forward is going to be a factor of being a competitor, and everyone is in the same boat. It is much more important to be aware of the fatigue, rather than shy away or pretend it doesn't exist. In the video, you can see the ladies using the space available to add in short sprinting bursts. They always include walking in-between, because these sprints are not to improve our conditioning like it would in practice. This technique is used to wake up the body and mind, and get the blood coursing through the whole body. 

The Cool-Down

Your cool down after a match, event, or game is extremely important. Even if you don't have a series of competitions like other sports may have, it is still crucial. Not only is it a moment to bring your mind to a focused state, but it also critical for the functionality of your body to help bring your heart rate down after such an extreme adrenaline high. 

The cool down should contain similar movement and motions to your warm up, especially the parts of your warm up that allow you to become warm before you do dynamic work. It should include a lot of skipping, light jogging, arm circles, even tumbling if appropriate. 

Cooling down is often overlooked because it doesn't seem like the cool thing to do. It is hard to be the one athlete who is doing something that looks different from your teammates or from other athletes. But in reality, by ignoring the importance of a cool down, you are actually doing a disservice to your body and the longevity it will have in sport. Get in tune with your mind and body, this is also important as we have so many emotions and thoughts running through our heads during a competition. Can you take a moment without talking to coaches, parents, teammates and get in tune with what's going on inside? There are emotions and thoughts we are going to want to ignore, or have someone else tell us something that will make it go away. Sometimes, sitting with your own demons is the only way to move forward so you can refocus. Give yourself that time during your cool down to refocus your thoughts so you are ready for what comes next. 

The Competition Day Breakdown:

Follow coach, team, or personal guidelines for your pre-competition warm up. In the video, I show a very small snippet of some of the dynamic warm ups available in wrestling, as well as the importance of prepping your body with something like a foam roller. If you ever want to see a full morning warm-up and what it looks like for a wrestler, let me know in the comments! 

Typically, right after your first warm-up, many athletes will have the opportunity to rehydrate and get in some nutrition. If you want an idea of snacks to bring to your competition, check out that blog here.  

If you have a longer break in competition from your initial warm-up, it will be crucial to get in a quick re-warm up. This will never be as in-depth as your initial warm-up, unless you have many, many hours in between competitions. Typically, dynamic movements along with walking in-between will help raise your heart rate so you are ready to compete. 

As soon as you are done with your match, game, or first part of a competition, move directly into a cool down.

If you are preparing to compete again and your cool down is complete, rehydrate and get in nutrition. Sure, this may seem redundant, but this is actually called consistency. It's like providing your mind and body with a safe space, it always knows the next steps and what it needs to do. Eliminating the extra distractions and having a rhythm or routine for your competition day gets more important the more consistent you are working on becoming. 

If you are someone who uses a re-warm up and cool down, kudos! Leave me a comment about how your competition day looks!