Playing to Warm-Up VS. Warming-Up to Play


It still amazes me how many athletes start throwing, hitting, or training without doing any sort of movement prep beforehand. This is better known as playing or training to warm-up. In my opinion, this WILL lead to very poor performance and potential injury.

A GOOD warm-up prior to your workouts and games/practices should do all of the following:

  • Increase core temperature
  • Improve range of motion
  • Prime your central nervous system
  • Allow you to get into better positions
  • Reduce the potential for injury
  • Improve the ability of your muscles to contract
  • Improve strength and power potential
  • Improve work capacity

Six Phase Warm-Up

When I design warm-ups for my athletes prior to training or competition they need to be done in proper order. Specific exercises in the athletes warm-up will depend on a lot of things (game, practice, what type of workout they’re doing, etc.) however, the order in which each exercise is performed does not change.

Here’s how I like to design warm-ups for my athletes. You can use this template to design your own pre-game/pre-training warm-up! If there’s any exercise listed below that you don’t recognize just click the exercise to see the movement being performed by myself or one of my athletes.

Phase 1: Increase Core Temperature/Promote Full Body Blood Flow

Exercises – Pick 2 Exercises: Side-Shuffle x 30 yards/side, Open/Closed Gate Skip x 30 yards each, Backpedal x 60 total yards, Forward/Backward Skip x 30 yards each, Jump Rope x 1 minute, Jumping Jacks x 1 minute, Seal Jacks x 1 minute, Skips with Arm Circles Forward and Backward x 60 total yards, Frankenstein Kick x 20 yards, Side-Shuffle with Arm Swing x 30 yards/side, Lateral Skip x 30 yards/side

Phase 2: Activate the Core

Exercises – Pick 1 Exercise: Walking Inchworm x 10 reps, Bear Crawl x 20 yards, Lateral Bear Crawl x 20 yards, Alternating Bent-Knee Deadbug x 10 reps/side, Caterpillar Walk x 10 reps, Lateral Hand Walk x 15 yards/side, RKC Plank x 30 seconds

Phase 3: Activate the Glutes

Exercises – Pick 1 Exercises: Quadruped Fire Hydrant x 20 reps/side, Side-Lying Banded Clamshell x 10 reps/side, Quadruped Hip Circles (Forward and Backward) x 10 reps forward and backward/side, Supine Single-Leg Glute Bridge x 10 reps/side, Lateral Band Walk x 10 yards/side, Quadruped Bent-Knee Leg Raise x 20 reps/side

Phase 4: Mobilize the Upper and Lower Body

Exercises – Pick 2 Upper Body Exercises & 2 Lower Body Exercises:

Upper Body Exercises: Scapular Push-Up x 12 reps, Quadruped Cat Camel x 12 reps, Down Dog x 15 reps, Down Dog to Alternating Toe Tap x 10 reps/side, Prone Scorpion x 8 reps/side, Bent-Knee Iron Cross x 8 reps/side

Lower Body Exercises: Walking Lunge to Rotation  x 20 yards, Walking Lunge to Overhead Reach x 20 yards, Reverse Lunge to Overhead Reach, Walking Lunge to High Knee Drive x 20 yards, Walking Lunge Elbow Instep x 20 yards, Hurdle Over-Over Under-Under’s x 5 reps/side, Spider-Man Lunge with Hip Lift and Reach x 5 reps/side, Squat to Stand with Diagonal Reach x 5 reps, Quad-Pull to Lateral Lunge with Overhead Reach x 5 reps/side, Greatest Stretch on Earth x 5 reps/side, Prisoner Squat x 10 reps, Prisoner Ghost Side Hurdle x 10 reps/side

Phase 5: Dynamically Mobilize the Upper and Lower Body

Exercises – Pick 1 Upper Body Exercise & 1 Lower Body Exercise:

Upper Body Exercises: Prone Blackburns x 12 reps, Prone Y-Handcuff x 12 reps, Prone Overhead Reach x 20 reps, Prone Y, T, W Switch x 60-90 seconds, Prone Band Over-Back x 12 reps, Band Pull Aparts x 20 reps

Lower Body Exercises: Rollover into Dynamic Hamstring Stretch x 10 reps, Rollover into Dynamic Piriformis Stretch x 10 reps, Alternating Mountain Climber x 6 reps/side, Groiner x 10 reps, 90/90 Hip Switch x 5 reps/side, Quadruped Rocking Frog x 10 reps, Alternating Cossack Squat x 6 reps/side

Phase 6: Prime the Central Nervous System

Upper and Lower Body Workouts Only

Before a Upper Body Workout – Pick 1: Medicine Ball Overhead Stomps 2 sets x 6 reps, Medicine Ball Bent-Over Chest-Pass into Floor 2 sets x 6 reps, Tall-Kneeling Medicine Ball Forward Chest Pass 2 sets x 5 reps

Before a Lower Body Workout – Pick 1: Squat Jumps 2 sets x 5 reps, Alternating Split-Squat Jumps 2 sets x 4 reps/side, High Pogo Hops 2 sets x 10 jumps

Games, Practices or Field Work Only

Before a Game or Practice – Pick 1 Combo:

CNS Primer Combo #1: Power Skip for Distance x 3/sideHigh Pogo Hops x 10 jumps

CNS Primer Combo #2: Power Skip for Height x 3/sideForward Pogo Hop x 10 yards

Before a Game or Practice – Pick 1 Sprint Variation: Do this only prior to games and practices. Do NOT perform a sprint variation prior to lifting. Rest 60 seconds after each sprint. Push-Up Sprint Start 2 sprints x 10 yards, Lateral Push-Up Sprint Start 2 sprints x 10 yards (1/side), Half-Kneeling Sprint 2 sprints x 10 yards (1/side), Half-Kneeling Lateral Sprint 2 sprints x 10 yards (1/side), Mountain Climber Sprint Start 2 sprints x 10 yards, Lateral Mountain Climber Sprint Start 2 sprints x 10 yards (1/side), Seated Sprint Start 2 sprints x 10 yards

I hope this article was helpful! If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please feel free to send me an email –

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