The 2017 NBA playoffs are in full swing and I have been a fan of basketball since I was a child. I prefer to watch basketball than play it. Mostly because I’m terrible at it and there’s too much running involved for my enjoyment.

I love the intangibles of NBA Playoff basketball. The intensity, the heart, the drive, and the effort of each player seems to be ramped up beyond maximum levels. Regardless of league rankings, every team is fighting for the ultimate prize of a bringing the coveted NBA Championship trophy back to their city.

It was Game 1, and the Warriors are beginning their Playoff run by defending Oracle Arena against the Portland Trailblazers. As Stephen Curry, the Warriors’ superstar point guard, and the Dubs were in their warm up clothes, they were taking shots from various locations – mid-range jump shots, layups, dunks, and 3-point bombs. The demeanor of the Warriors appeared to be light, fun, exciting and overall joyous, despite the seriousness of the situation.

Golden State Warriors’ starting point guard, Stephen Curry has a home court tradition of draining a long-distance shot from the player entrance tunnel during his warm up. Source The Mercury News

Then as it nears start time and the two largest players square off for the tip-off, a switch flips and the competitor in each of the players shines through. While witnessing that shift in mentalities from the lighthearted warm ups to the game-time fierceness, I realized that I can learn something new from this game…

 

Everyone needs to warm up.

 

A warm up should be a series of light movements or exercises to help prime your mind and your body. These activities are milder in intensity, but specifically designed to help you perform at peak efficiency.

There are plenty of other activities, outside of sports that require a warm up for optimal results. While the activities vary in terms of physical and mental demand, the benefits are the same. Let’s dive deeper into three reasons why I think warming up can be beneficial for you.


Get your body ready to perform

In sports, working out,  dance or other physical activity, a warm up has physiological benefits. A warm up primes the body for the upcoming intensity in the near future.

It increases blood flow to the muscles, it loosens the joints, and it readies the heart for the cardiovascular output it’s about to undergo.It serves as a physical signal for the body to prepare for the strain it is about to experience.

Warming up is essential to turning on the muscles that you need to recruit for your specific functions, ensuring your body can keep up with the physical demands, and can decrease your risk of injury.

Boost the mind-body connection

There’s also a mental component to performing a warm up. Whether or not you are competing, it’s important to be mentally focused as well in your physical activity. You shouldn’t be “going through the motions” of your movements.

For optimized results and an enhanced experience, it would behoove you to be mindful of how your body is operating during your exercise or function, i.e. which muscles need to be firing during a jump shot or which muscles are required to speak loudly.

While I’m sure that somewhere out in the world, there exist a small population of people who can generate laser-like focus instantaneously, I’m willing to bet that most of us need to warm up our minds for such a mental demand.

Warming up serves as mental dynamic stretch the mind-body connection. It also allows you to perform the movements or actions in a safer setting. There’s no pressure during the warm up. You’re able to execute your actions without fear of messing up. If there’s a time to mess up and make minuscule mistakes, it’s during your warm up.

 

Be clear for your path to success

Along with mentally priming the “mind-body” connection, warming up helps build up your focus. Ultimately, you’re aiming for the bigger picture.

If you’re the Warriors, it’s winning the NBA Championship.

If you’re a presenter, it’s giving a highly-engaging and unforgettable speech.

If you’re about to workout, it’s pushing your body past its limits for the gains.

It’s absolutely necessary to remember your goal. That’s your motivation to exert maximum effort and to perform at your highest abilities.

Every major win is a summation of smaller wins. You cannot achieve your goal without succeeding at the little things first. During a warm up, you have the ability to remember your objective and envision the stages in between simultaneously.

It’s easy to focus on the end goal. It’s what you desire with a burning passion.  Being aware of the end goal is great, but you cannot lose sight of the pathway to your success.
Warming up allows you time to position your focus towards that final prize. It helps clear your mind of the dispensable and counterproductive thoughts that are currently irrelevant and focus on the immediate tasks at hand.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has a series of videos where he will yell “FOCUS” out into the distance as he is working out. Warming up can help you have the same intense, warrior-like focus as “The People’s Champ.” Source: Instagram @therock

Warming up is unique to you

You should have a warm up routine that works best for you, but it might take a few iterations to find your favorite routine. One piece of advice I have is to see how other experts warm up.

For example, before every weightlifting workout I have, I NEED to warm up. Otherwise, my joints hurt, my muscles feel weak, my timing feels off, and my mental fortitude is weaker than wet toilet paper. I use a full-body dynamic warm up routine I found on online from a reputable weightlifting coach and I’ve made some modifications to focus more on my hips.

Coach Greg Everett demonstrates a dynamic warm up routine that his athletes use before they workout. Source Catalyst Athletics

Another example of warming up helps me write. Before I write an article, I warm up my brain simply by journaling. This method came from a professional blogger and he recommends it to help get the creative juices flowing.

On the days I am feeling extra creative, I will warm up my writing skills with more imaginative writing prompts. Recently, I wrote a eulogy for a sandwich I recently consumed. R.I.P.

You don’t have to warm up. I completely understand. Some days it feels like a waste of time. However, I am certain to that you’ll notice a significant increase in your own performance and a more enjoyable experience by implementing the right routine for you.

Readers, what are ways that you warm up for your activities?