Tuesday Oct 27, 2015

Warm Up or Performance Preparation?

The successful warrior is the average man, with a laser like focus”  Bruce Lee

How many of us have a laser like focus for warming up?  And be honest!

How many just see it as a routine?  Something you do before exercise or games.

How many see it as an integral part of their game day experience?

Vocabulary and terminology can be deceiving, I was told a story this week of yoga teachers in New York calling themselves “personal adjusters” and changing twice the price!  But I would like you all to change the definition and meaning of the term warm up.  I would like you to now start referring to it as performance preparation.

It is simply a term, but one that is taken seriously can change how you look at using the time before exercise and games much more productively.  (Disclaimer:  One of my pet hates is seeing Forwards kicking balls in their performance preparation because they have nothing better to do!)

As mentioned in previous articles you are reading this because you want to be better, you want to achieve more, you want to increase your performance levels.  So why, just before a game would you just follow a routine?  Just go through the motions?  Why would you spend all week training, hitting the gym, drinking protein shakes etc to then not focus on what happens immediately before a game?

Performance preparation is ultimately that, preparing the mind and the body for your performance, it is taking you from a stationary position (changing into your kit) and progressively challenging you and raising intensity levels so when that first whistle goes you are ready to run through a brick wall.


1500hrs:  Kick Off

1455hrs:  Game shirts on, captains talk

1450hrs:  Full contact or hitting pads

1445hrs:  Phase play

1440hrs:  Support play (rucking clearing out)

1435hrs:  Passing (under pressure)

1430hrs:  Wide passing & shapes

1425hrs:  Handling

1420hrs:  Ref talk

1400hrs:  Unit skills (Forwards Line Outs, Backs Handling, Running, Kicking)

1345hrs:  Individual warm ups

1330hrs:  Team meeting and changed

Individual Warm Ups

First and foremost your stretching needs to be dynamic! I’m still amazed at how many times I still see players statically stretching before games.  If you do feel tight then that form of (static) stretching needs to be done the night before.

Your warm up needs to be progressive (starts slow and builds with a crescendo).

Start with some light movement, perform dynamic stretches for the whole body and focusing on shoulder, hip, knee and ankle joints as well as spine flexibility and rotation.

Increase the speed of movement throughout and finish with movements that mimic your game position and scenarios (forwards, triple extensions and short accelerations, backs, triple extensions, acceleration, decelerations, changes of directions and top speed)


Each part of the timeline is short, you need to focus and build upon each component.  Your individual preparation should support your movement, your movement should support your handling, your handling should support your passing and shapes which support the phase play etc. You shouldn’t have time to be idle or have chance for your mind and body to ease off.

As you transition from one drill to the next you can include water breaks where the team can come together to discuss what has just happened and what is about to happen (the key objectives / outcomes) but keep this to 30seconds, 60 at maximum.


  • Performance Preparation is the new term for warm ups
  • It is key to highlighting the need to focus on an essential part of increasing your performance levels
  • It needs to be progressive and challenging
  • All stretching during this time needs to be dynamic
  • It needs to be effective AND efficient (you should never be just stood around, apart from water breaks)
  • When you walk in to put your game shirt on you should KNOW you are ready!  You shouldn’t need any more motivation, time or assistance in being prepared for that first whistle


Meet Coach Kevin

Kevin Shattock is a professional rugby strength & conditioning coach from Yorkshire, England.

He began his career as a fitness instructor in the Royal Air Force. After receiving the Queen’s Commendation award, he left military life and the United Kingdom. He spent his next years training mountain climbers in the Himalayas.

After returning home to the UK, Kevin became a strength & conditioning coach and developed High Intensity Rugby Training to assist talented players achieve elite performance.

Kevin is one of our official RugbyDump Strength Academy trainers and we’re lucky to have him aboard.


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