Unlock Your Highest Potential

Movement Preparation

“If you don’t have time to warm-up, don’t workout!”



Movement Preparation - continuous flow of movement with all athletes participating at the same time that appropriately elevates core body temperature and increases muscle elasticity and neuromuscular function for a fast twitch, explosive sport (i.e. volleyball).



A limited range of motion can compromise your volleyball playing skills or affect your ability to speed up or slow down when making plays on the court. Therefore, movement preparation addresses the various positions required by the sport of volleyball and also develops lower extremity strength, joint integrity, kinesthetic awareness and court sense


Goals of Movement Preparation:

  1. Activate non-functioning synergists (e.g glutes, scapular retractors, external rotators).
  2. Integrate proper recruitment patterns established with activation patterns into full range of motion training protocols: body weight as resistance, dynamic flexibility.
  3. Effectively mobilize recruitment patterns into more complex and loaded movements.

Benefits of Movement Preparation: 

  • Provides greater range of motion potential when performing physical and athletic skills (increase workout performance).
  • Muscles require less energy to complete a movement; therefore, aid in recovery and endurance (can help alleviate muscle soreness and joint stiffness)
  • Increases tissue temperature and blood flow, and eliminates waste products (less chance of injury).
  • Decreases neuromuscular tension by promoting general body relaxation and reducing emotional stress (helps mentally prepare mind for upcoming physical task).

Rational for Movement Preparation

Very few people understand the difference between flexibility and range of motion (ROM). Flexibility merely refers to range of motion – and, more specifically, passive range of motion as achieved by static stretching.  Don’t get me wrong; static stretching has its place.  I see it as tremendously valuable in situations where you want to:


a) Relax a muscle to facilitate antagonist activation (e.g. stretch the hip flexors to improve glute recruitment)

b) Break down scar tissue following an injury and/or surgery (when the new connective tissue may require “realignment”)

c) Loosen someone up when you can’t be supervising them (very simply, there is less likelihood of technique breakdown with static stretching because it isn’t a dynamic challenge)


However, the principle problem with pure flexibility is that it does not imply stability nor preparedness for dynamic tasks.  Athletes need to have mobile-stability; there’s really no use in being able to attain a given range of motion if you can’t stabilize yourself in that position.  Excessive passive flexibility without mobility (or dynamic flexibility, as it’s been called) will actually increase the risk of injury! 


Moreover, it’s not uncommon at all to see individuals with circus-like passive flexibility fail miserably on dynamic tasks.  For instance, I recently began working with an accomplished ballet dancer who can tie herself into a human pretzel, but could barely hit parallel on a body weight squat until after a few sessions of corrective training.  She was great on the dynamic tasks that were fundamentally specific to her sport, but when faced with a general challenge that required mobility in a non-familiar range of motion, she was grossly unprepared to handle it.  She had flexibility, but not mobility; the instability and the lack of preparation for the dynamic motion were the limiting factors.  She could achieve joint ranges of motion, but her neuromuscular system wasn’t prepared to do much of anything in those ranges of motion.


Flexibility has always been regarded (wrongly) as an important part of warm-up. Flexibility as a warm-up item is usually done in static positions after general light physical activity. Many coaches and players believe this is the type of flexibility that will enhance a joint’s range of motion, resulting in superior skill performance. Although there is a time and place for open-chain or static stretching, stretching of this sort will not optimize athletic performance. Research literature states that long position holding prior to an explosive activity is counter-productive. Static stretches* confuse muscle and tendon reflexes which throws off an athletes coordination and muscle productivity. Consequently, dynamic stretching is paramount in a volleyball “warm-up” (movement preparation) session. There is a need for explosive mobility simulating real action, in order to get muscles back to explosive mode. A proven means of accomplishing this task is to incorporate the movement preparation outlined below (Sample Movement Breakdown).


*After practice or competition, perform static stretching. The increased muscle temperature increases the elastic properties of the muscle and therefore allows for a greater stretch. Static stretching will be use as part of a cool-down which will help restore the muscle back to resting length, reduce soreness, and enhance recovery for the next volleyball workout.

Sample Movement Prep Breakdowns

15 MIN Movement Preparation for LHS


Approx. Time

Exercise Details


Non-involved Corrective Static Stretches



Ground Based

  • IT Band Figure 4
  • Calves
  • Neck
  • Inch Worms to Cobras

Ground-based Mobility/Activation



timed 20 sec for P/S and 1 min burpess



Mt. Climbers Burpees





Standing-based Mobility/Activation





watch form for traveling drills, backs must be straight, look straight ahead

Stationary Drill:

  • Transverse Lunge Matrix
  • T Planks

Traveling Drills:

  • Band Walks (ankle or thighs)
  • Inverted T’s to Knee Hugs
  • Heel to Butt & Hurdle Walk
  • Forward Lunge with front twist
  • Backward Lunge with overhand twist








Upper Body Mobility and Activation

~ 3min







“constant” arm movement

Wrist Stretches

Wrist Circles

Finger Triangle Press

Finger Sprawls

90degree Isometrics


Interlock double 90

  • L and R Swings
  • Cradle Swings
  • Shoulder Roll Backs


Egyptian Twist

Shoulder Swings (front and side)

Hugs to Elbow Touchbacks

Back Clasps




Total Body Activation




performed at “all out speed”


  • Jumping Jacks 
  • Seal Jumps


  • High Knees to for/back
  • Butt Kicks to for/back
  • Z Pattern Shuffles

Take Home Message

As with a lot of the principles and concepts in strength and conditioning, the key is how you apply it. There is no particular warm up that is the best warm up for volleyball, and I vary the warm up according to the situation, player needs, and what coaches want to get out of it. By manipulating exercise selection, duration and the intensity of the movement prep, I can ensure different needs can be met in each situation. In some trainings there may be a focus on getting some aerobic conditioning out of the warm up. In this instance drills could be done continuously. A warm up in 90 degree heat will be different to one in normal (cooler) conditions, the warm up in a tournament situation may be different to the warm up for a single game or simply practice sessions.


Hopefully page this gives you some general information on my style of dynamic warm ups. This video should give you somewhat of an idea on how I will be conducting the warm-ups in practice. Watch and pay attention to the form (back straight, abs pulled in, shoulders retracted back, eyes looking ahead, and knees not caved in)