Bruce Lee once said, “Honestly expressing yourself…now, it is very difficult to do. I mean it is easy for me to put on a show and be cocky and be flooded with a cocky feeling and then feel pretty cool…or I can make all kinds of phony things, you know what I mean, blinded by it or I can show you some really fancy movement. But to express oneself honestly, not lying to oneself and to express myself honestly, now that, my friend is very hard to do.”

Bruce Lee was a dexterous mover and a deep thinker. His thoughts are powerful and continuously shape our Form of Life here at Emergence. 

All sessions begin with some form of a warm-up, and this is a wonderful opportunity for the athlete to have some ownership and honestly express oneself. The warm-up takes on a number of shapes and serves many purposes. We strongly feel it goes beyond just getting the body heated. To be frank, if that’s all it was about, then we should just stand in a sauna for 10 minutes before we start the training session. Let’s take a look at some of the more widely recognized reasons that an athlete needs to warm-up.

Benefits Include: 

  • Creates an environment for the athlete to psychologically prepare for the training session
  • Increases blood flow and temperature, which helps with the release of oxygen from hemoglobin
  • Increases joint movement and health by secreting more synovial fluid
  • Increases fascial elasticity
  • Increases sweat production, which aids in cooling the body

The above doesn’t need to occur in a rigid, boring, and often linear fashion. In addition, the warm-up should respect the performer-environment relationship. Under an ecological dynamics framework, athletes are considered complex adaptive systems. In complex adaptive systems, the multitude of parts continually form coordinated patterns (synergies), which are shaped by surrounding informational constraints (Renshaw et al., 2019). 

So how else can the warm-up be used? We feel the time is best spent connecting to information in the environment while experiencing a variety of movements. Essentially, interacting with a rich landscape of opportunities. When designing the warm-up, we suggest that you include activities that promote exploration and potentially encourage the athlete’s behaviors to emerge in a similar way to the body of the practice or training session. In our course, ‘Approaching the Weight Room from an Ecological Dynamics Perspective,’ we discuss the need for athletes to open up their degrees of freedom (motor, perceptual, and cognitive) to potentially harness them when the training becomes more specific.

We place a premium on holistic movement, specifically in the warm-up, where the athlete can use their intentions and attention to guide their movement. Maintaining control of the body in space is a collective effort from the perceptual systems as the athlete connects to the information available to them at that time. No two movements ever occur in the same way, so we approach our warm-up through what Nikolai Bernstein called ‘repetition without repetition.’ Experiencing movement in different ways helps with adaptability.

It’s our job as coaches, or ‘environment architects’ to give the athlete a chance to gain ownership of their movement. The warm-up is a great place to start. 

Here is an example of repetition without repetition using crawls, jumps, and traditional movements.

Tyler Yearby 

Co-Director of Education

For more reading:

  1. Approaching the Weight Room from an Ecological Dynamics Perspective. Emergence (2019)
  2. Renshaw, I, Davids, K, Newcombe, D, and Roberts, W. The Constraints-Led Approach, 2019