A new study shows major sporting clubs may be tiring their players by warming up for too long.
Research by James Zois and colleagues at Victoria University's Institute of Sport Exercise and Active Living compared performance after various warm-up routines including one conducted by a first class (Serie A) Italian soccer club.
The study showed a specific 6-minute warm-up routine produced better results than the club's all encompassing 23-minute routine, which included run-throughs, stretching and change of direction tasks.
The players' speed, agility and jumping performance were all better after the short warm-up - by as much as 7 per cent - while athletes in the longer warm-up showed signs of fatigue.
"This shows that beyond the 5 minutes needed to increase heart rate and muscle temperature, then a couple of targeted explosive routines, you can just start tiring players out for no real benefit," Mr Zois said.
He said a preliminary survey of European soccer clubs and AFL clubs showed many had longer routines, with some lasting for up to one-hour pre-competition.
"We believe a lot of these are far too long and counter-productive," Mr Zois said. "On top of that some players are also doing their own routines like boxing in the corner for 20 minutes to get their anxiety and nervous energy out."
"Coaches need to restrict and focus their players' warm-up so they can save all that energy for use on the field during competition."
He said for athletes with no injuries the shorter warm-up would suffice, but for those with injuries extra stretching or exercises may be required.
The study 'High-intensity warm-ups elicit superior performance to a current warm up routine' was recently published in the Journal of Science and Sport Medicine.