Warm up is the moment that anticipates a training or a game and it can be part of it if its goals are well planned. That is an essential subject for physical training! I chose a recent article from Australia that promotes a group of exercises that enhance the neuromuscular system and prepares the young athletes to be ready and safe for a workout or a game.
A warm up is often seen as a isolated moment of a workout and its most important goal is to enhance the heart rate, to stimulate the cardio-vascular system and give higher temperature to muscles and joints. This aim is definately right but if a boy trains 4 times per week (that means 16 warm ups each months!) and always faces the same routine by running, doing the same dynamic stretching and mobility exercises at the same volume and intensity I think this is not useful and performing cause the neuromuscular system is almost not involved. That is not good because it is what activates and stimulates the cognitive side of the athlete. My warm ups are usually 15/20 minutes long, that means (as mentioned above) I dedicate to it 320 minutes (more than 5 hours) each month. This is a lots of time and if it is well planned in detail can help to improve day by day also the condition and the performance. If a boy is more coordinated and conscious about his balance and postural stability, for sure he will put more power and precision in a technical gesture, he will optimize the energy shortage and finally he will be more focused in a game situation.
The article by Stephen Bird and Will Stuart is very practical because, after a quick introduction about the warm up physiology and concepts, it presents a group of 12 exercises (with video clips) called BAPS (Balance And Postural Stability) that are proved to enhance the activation and control of the body, overall in young athletes that are still in a phase of growing up develop. The two authors say that deficit in neuromuscular control contribute to unstable or faulty movement patterns throughout the kinetic chain. Instead, BAPS exercises may contribute to a heightened sense of lumbar spine position and pelvic orientation during dynamic movements. That reduces injury risks and improves the functionality of the athlete.
Personally I use various types of warm up, depending on the workout my pupils will face; for example, if the training is about strength I propose proprioceptive and stability exercises, inserting often tools like elastic bands or fit ball to activate the neuromuscular system at best. Instead, if the workout is about speed or explosive power I use also more aerobic exercises to be sure that the athlete is ready and safe for training. In addiction to this general part I always insert two/three specific and personalized exercises for improving postural or technical details (both physical and sport specific, in according to the coach) and they are often similar to the BAPS the Australian authors present in their article; every two months (according to the reached goals) I evolve them in order to enhance the stimulation and progress with the improvements. In this way each training session is a chance to work on the personal details of each athlete, since the warm up!
Reading the article and analyizing the contents I have surely learned some new hint to get my warm up strategy richer.