Making warm-ups more engaging, more fun, more relevant; introducing Zoom, Schwartz, Profigliano

Fascinating thread from Philip O’Callaghan aka @Mr_Tennis_Coach on the importance of the warmup.

If you use it right, the warm up is one of the most important parts of the session.

But coaching courses do a terrible job showing you how to make the most of it.

Philip O’Callaghan

Philip’s thread provides some activities that go some way to achieving this aim, including a cricket example — the “batminton” game.

I love the thinking behind this warm-up, but it might, perhaps, be a little too technical for a general warm-up, or to use with younger players.

But the challenge, to achieve more in the warm-up than simply preparing the body to move, is valid.

So what could we do?

Warm up the body, open the eyes, switch on the brain!

One approach might be to adapt existing catching & fielding games to include more physical movement challenges, more mental challenges, perhaps more opportunities for team work.

I particularly like the Dynamo’s “All Change” and “Team Juggling” games, in this context.

Both emphasise eyes & hands (catching & throwing) plus mental focus — listening/reacting to new instructions, deciding on new ways to move the ball. The Dynamos programme does set out to promote the players creativity and autonomy.

By adding in progressive physical activity with e.g. dynamic stretch between stations (easy in All Change; perhaps by having players “pass & follow the ball” in Team Juggling) — the traditional physical warm-up is incorporated into a “fun” activity.

But could we go further, and really “engage the brain” in our warm-ups?

Let me introduce you to some old friends.

Zoom, Schwartz, Profigliano

Zoom, Schwartz, Profigliano (ZSP) is a “verbal “tag” drinking game” that I came across with the Cricket Club at Sheffield University, back in the early 1980s. ZSP, rather surprisingly, has a page on Wikipedia!

In the format we played, an imaginary ball was “passed” between the players, with appropriate verbal commands. “Dropping” the ball (not responding correctly to a call), “poaching” (responding to a call directed to another player) and other misdemeanours (including mispronouncing any of the calls) incurred a forfeit, usually downing a finger (or two) from the pint glass.

Traditional ZSP is obviously inappropriate as a warm-up activity, unless we switch to downing isotonic sports drinks. Come to think of it, it’s quite probably inappropriate in the bar, post-game, nowadays.

But the concentration required to make and respond correctly to the various calls, alongside an actual catching game, and with players required to “pass & follow the ball”, might make for a physically and mentally challenging warm-up game.

Perhaps by combining Team Juggling — players in a circle, passing a ball to a (non-adjacent) team mate & following the ball…ideally around the outside of the circle — with ZSP calls.

ZSP — the calls


Pass to the person you are looking at. Cannot be used to return a ball whence it came.


Return the ball to the person who has just passed it to you (you must look at the player you are passing to).


The ball is returned to the person who just passed it to you, but you must look at a different player.

“You can’t Schwartz a Profigliano”

After receiving the ball via a Profigliano (passer looks to a different player, but returns it whence it originally came), it is not permitted to return it straight back.

Pismorunciations & other misdemeanours

In addition to dropping & poaching (as defined above).

All to incur a (physical) forfeit.

  • “Schwartz” should be pronounced “shworts”; the (correct) German pronunciation is not permitted in this game!
  • No command can be used on more than three consecutive calls.
  • General inattentiveness.

I haven’t yet had the opportunity to try out Team Juggling x ZSP, and I’m not sure quite how to run forfeits — I do agree with the idea that physical forfeits are to be avoided if we want to encourage players to enjoy physicality…but perhaps a plank/side plank for 15 seconds or until someone else “drops the ball”.

Published by Andrew Beaven

Cricket coach, fascinated by the possibilities offered by the game. More formally - ECB level 2 cricket coach; ECB National Programmes (All Stars & Dynamos Cricket) Activator Tutor; Chance to Shine & Team Up (cricket) deliverer; ECB ACO umpire.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: