Why is Warm-Up Time Important?
Warm-up time before any exercise is important, including for young recreational gymnasts. When we warm up, we are warming up our muscles. This prepares the muscles for the upcoming demands that will be placed on them. What happens when high demands are placed on cold muscles? Injuries! Nobody wants to suffer a preventable injury.
How to Make Warm-Up Time Fun
Warm-ups are important, but how do we make it fun? Your gymnasts can simply run around the floor for a certain amount of time or number of laps, but that isn’t much fun and your gymnasts (and you) are likely to grow bored with it. Bored gymnasts will likely act up or not want to come to class anymore. To avoid a lose-lose situation, let’s shake things up a bit and add some fun into warm-up. The following games are excellent for warming up the muscles, but all your gymnasts will care about is that they get to play a fun game.
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5 Fun Warm-Up Games to Play
Small cones (or something else that will stand up easily and is small).
How to Play:
- Start with half the cones upright and half tipped over. Divide your gymnasts into two teams. One team is the construction team. The other team is the destruction team.
- Set a timer for your desired time.
- Go! The construction team is trying to keep all the cones upright, while the destruction team is trying to knock all the cones over. No guarding of a cone is allowed.
- The team with the most number of cones in their designated position (up or down) wins. (If you want to declare a winning team, otherwise just play for fun.)
How to Play:
- This is a variation of freeze tag.
- One person is ‘it.’ That person runs around trying to tag people.
- When a gymnast gets tagged, she must stop and do a certain number of jumping jacks (10, 20, or another number). When she is done, she is unfrozen and can continue to run.
- The goal of the person who is ‘it’ is to have everyone doing jumping jacks.
- A gymnast becomes ‘it’ if she gets tagged twice.
- Cartwheel or forward roll freeze tag. Use these variations at your own discretion based on the maturity and level of your class. When a gymnast gets tagged they must lie down on the floor. In order to become unfrozen someone else must come and do a cartwheel (or forward roll) over them. Be careful that nobody gets kicked or otherwise hurt.
- Frog tag. When someone gets tagged she must do frog jumps (I really like 90 degree frog jumps best, they are less taxing on the knees) until someone (who isn’t ‘it’) comes and frees her by touching her shoulder.
3-Land and Sea
Several panel mats (or other small mats with enough space to stand on).
How to Play:
- Line the panel mats flat side on the floor (so gymnasts can easily stand on top of them) in a line with a small gap between each. Line panel mats up with long sides facing the next mat in line (pictured below).
- The gymnasts jog in place while in line at the front of the panel mats. During her turn a gymnast will jump up and down through the panel mats as she works her way down the line. (She jumps onto the land (panel mat) then down into the sea (the floor) between the panel mats, as she moves through the line of panel mats). She tries to move as quickly as possible.
- The next gymnast may begin once the first is at least 1/2 way through the panel mats.
- Each time the first gymnast begins, you yell out a different variation of land and sea. Perhaps you only say, “Land.” Then the gymnasts will only jump on the panel mats. If you say, “Sea,” they will only jump on the floor (jumping over the panel mats).
- Continue for a certain amount of time.
- If you want to add a challenge add a 4″ or 8″ mat at the end of the line of panel mats and the gymnasts can do something onto it, like a straddle jump; forward roll; etc.
How to Play:
- Everybody lines up in the pit, around the edge.
- The first gymnast in line must try to catch the last person in line by running through the pit, going around the edge.
- After 1-2 laps (depending on the size of your pit and the number of gymnasts you have), the leader now becomes the back of the line.
- Most kids will love the fact that they get to be in the pit. It is fun and it is a privilege. But don’t let the fun fool you, trying to run in a pit is challenging and tiring!
How to Play:
- This is pretty simple. Everybody gets a jump rope and jumps for a certain amount of time or number of jumps. Maybe you could try different variations of jumping: double bounce (doing an additional jump between jumping over the rope), single leg jumps, crossing the jump rope in front as you jump over it, double unders (the jump rope passes under the feet twice in one jump), high knee jumps, etc.
- Additionally, you could ask your class for jump rope game suggestions. Elementary-age kids are sure to know a few games to make jumping rope more fun and less monotonous.
Now that warm-up time is more fun, check out my fun stretching program (for the end of workout).
Try out these games and let me know what you think? Did your gymnasts enjoy them? Comment below, I would love to hear if these games made warm-up time more fun. Do you have any other game ideas? Let me know!