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Warm up and cool down

Warm ups are important and are used to get the body ready for activity.

They shouldn't take too long, five to ten minutes is fine for kids as often they want to get on with it.

Cool down periods are easily forgotten, but they are equally as important.

The warm up

Warm ups should start slowly and build up gradually, focussing on the movements and muscles that are going to be used during the session.

This time is used to increase body temperature, the heart rate and breathing.

Warm blood circulates through the joints and muscles and helps encourage less restricted movement.

Warm ups are usually broken down into three parts.

  • Gentle aerobic exercise such as jogging or skipping
  • Gentle stretching
  • Three quarter paced exercise such as running or cycling

Start with some gentle whole body exercises - such as light jogging or skipping.

Stretches should be in slow, sustained movements. Avoid bouncing or jerking.

Start at the top with some simple and non-strenuous stretches for the head and neck before moving down through the arms, back, thighs and ankle.

And everybody should still be breathing! Remind the children not to hold their breath while doing the stretches.

Steer clear of neck circling and rolling, forward leans to touch the toes and extreme back bending.

Once you've finished, move quickly on to the session itself.

The cool down

The purpose of a cool down is to return the body to its normal state. It helps to effectively break down the build up of waste products from activity such as lactic acid.

It isn't necessarily a cure for muscle soreness, but it may mean the muscles are less stiff.

Cool downs are a repeat of the first two parts of a warm up.

  • Gentle aerobic exercise such as jogging
  • Gentle stretching

The cool down shouldn't make anyone tired, it should be seen as a gentle session between an active and non active state.

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Sport boosts kids' esteem, keeps them healthy, teaches them teamwork. And lets them dream.
- A Heaton, rugby coach and father


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