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Let the Games Begin
Thanks L. Fielitz,
E. Merrigan, C. Yunker, D. Van Dam, J. Freeman, J. Suby, J. McVan

warm-up activities
Warm-up games provide a varied and enjoyable method to increase the heart rate and body temperature of the participants with the use of agility, movement and coordinating activities in preparation for the class or practice activity.
This article provides several examples of warm-up games that will add variety to the class or practice while participants enjoy a mixture of movement patterns that assist them in preparing for the next physical activity.

Warming up the body by increasing the heart rate, raising the body temperature and getting ready for a higher level of physical activity, is recommended by various groups ranging from the American College of Sports Medicine (2012) to the Mayo Clinic (2011).
Physical education teachers and coaches usually have their students and athletes perform some type of warm-up activity and stretching prior to class or practice.
Some teachers and coaches have the students or athletes take a few laps and then go through a series of stretches in preparation for the subsequent activity.
The goal of the warm-up is to prevent injuries through low intensity, large muscle activity.
The warm-up provides increased blood flow and oxygen to the muscles, primes the nerve-to-muscle pathway and improves coordination and reaction times (Spark People, 2013).

Prior to rigorous physical activity, low-intensity, submaximal aerobic activity should be conducted followed by some type of stretching and rehearsal of the upcoming skill (Young & Behm, 2002).
As long as the warm-up is not too intense, physical activity seems to improve subsequent performance (Bishop, 2003).
Removing the jog around the gym and inserting fun, active games can accomplish a physically active warm-up while maintaining participant interest.
“The length of the warm-up period depends on the climate and physical conditioning level.
In general the warm-up activity should last approximately 5 to 15 minutes, long enough to break out in a sweat” (National Strength and Conditioning Association, Essentials of Personal Training, 2004, p. 273).
As fitness levels improve, so should the length and intensity of the warm-up.
Well trained performers should have a longer warm-up period than students preparing for a physical education class.
Warm-up games can be tailored to the activity or sport and can be used to introduce or reinforce skills that will be used in the class or practice.

Many activities involve changing direction and reacting to various external stimuli requiring a specific response.
Tag and agility type warm-up games can aid in this type of preparation.
The teacher or coach can modify the warm-up activity by adding a soccer ball to a tag game to focus on dribbling.
An example would be to add soccer dribbling to the Hook Tag warm-up game.
Not only will the students have to concentrate on the warm-up game itself, but they must also work on dribbling and making fast movements while controlling the ball and eluding the person who is trying to “tag” them.
Warm-up games can be used at various ages (K-12 and beyond) as well as at different skill levels.
Since the objective of the warm-up games is to prepare the participants for increased physical activity, the games can be modified or adapted for elementary students to varsity high school athletes.
An example of modifying the Relay Race game for elementary students would be having more participants spaced closer together in a line since they are not able to throw as far while using fewer participants on a high school softball team and increasing the distance each person would have to throw.
The number of times each person would throw the ball can be increased for more skilled participants.

Administrative tasks can also be completed during the warm-up games.
Rather than have the students sit during attendance, start class with a warm-up game and have them call out their name each time they are tagged (Hook Tag, Frozen Tag, Rooster Tail), reach a certain point in the game (Fancy Feet) or catch the ball (Relay Race).

Warm-up games can provide variety, increased interest and serve as a way to introduce an assortment of skills to a class or practice.
The following warm-up games can be adapted or modified to a variety of situations and constraints.
Participants may even find new and innovative ways to modify the games to make them more enjoyable or fit their situations.
With fun, imagination and activity; Let the Games Begin!

This article aimed to provide warm-up games to help prepare students for the main activity in the class or practice.
Warm-up activities are recommended to increase the heart rate and raise the body temperature prior to more vigorous activity.
Variations of each game can increase the difficulty of the game or introduce strategy or team play.
The teacher or coach can modify the game to make it more age appropriate, more challenging or skill specific.
Warm-up games can be a fun and useful addition to any class or practice. “Let’s begin with warm-up games!”


Bishop, D. (2003). Warm up II: Performance changes following active warm up and how to structure the warm up. Sports Medicine, 33 (7) 483-498.

Earle, R. W. & Baechle, T. R. (Eds.). (2004). National strength and conditioning association’s essentials of personal training. Champaign: Human Kinetics.

Mayo Clinic, (2011). Aerobic exercise: How to warm-up and cool down.

Shipe, M. (2012). Exercising with coronary heart disease.

Spark People (2013). Ask the experts: Why is it important to warm-up before exercise.

Young, W. B. &Behm, D.G., (2002). Should static stretching be used during a warm up for strength and power activities? National Strength and Conditioning Association, 24 (6) 33-37.

Daily Physical Activities and Games