The new thinking on game and practice preparation embraces “dynamic stretching,” or activity-based exercises that gradually increase reach and speed to prepare your muscles for movement. Here are a few simple dynamic stretching activities you can perform to warm up before you take the pitch:
Frankensteins: Stand on the end line, hold your arms straight out in front of you and stiff leg kick as if to kick your opposite palm. Take a few steps and repeat with the opposite leg. Continue until you get to the 18 yard line, turn around and return to the end line.
Butt-kicks: Just as the name implies, stand straight and jog to the 18 and back while bringing your feet up to kick your rear end.
High-knees/knee hugs: Jog to the 18 and back bringing your knees up as high as you can as if you’re trying to bring them to your chest. Alternatively, you can move through this exercise more slowly by hugging each knee to the chest as you bring it up.
Closed-knees: In this exercise you will be working the hips. Bring one leg up and out (away from the other leg) simultaneously until the knee is bent 90 degrees, then bring it back in. Repeat with the other leg. Move to the 18 and back alternating between legs with a skip or shuffle between each full motion.
Open-knees: Similar to the closed-knees exercise, except you are moving your leg in to out. Lift your leg while bringing it in until the knee is bent 90 degrees and swing it out, then repeat with the opposite leg.
Front-to-Back Hip/Leg Swing: Stand in place and kick one leg forward and back in a pendulum-like motion for several seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
Lateral hip swing: Similar to the front-to-back leg swing, stand in place and swing one leg from side to side for several seconds. Repeat with the other leg. You may need the help of a partner to maintain balance. Avoid kicking them.
Forward, backward arm circles: Rotate your arms at the shoulder in a full circle forward and backward for several seconds.
Rotational windmill: Let your arms hang loosely as you twist at the waist in both directions, allowing the motion to lift your arms up and away from the body. Continue to do so for several seconds.
Ankle rotations: Either stand with the toe pointed into the turf and work your ankle in circles with your leg, or hold your foot off the ground in front of you and rotate your foot at the ankle. Repeat with the opposite foot.