Warming Up

Many of us admire other professionals, such as musicians and athletes. We even emulate them in our own profession by practicing. What about that time just before the performance or game, though? What about warming up?

I've played hockey since I was 5 years old. Even at that age, I participated in a formal warm-up before each game. As I advanced in age and skill, the warm-ups became a little longer and more structured. They served to prepare me both physically and mentally for the impending game.

Set Aside Some Time Each Day

Warm-up times vary greatly from youth hockey to the pros, who have 20 minutes or the equivalent of 1/3 of the scheduled game time.

1/3 of a typical 8-hour day is about 2 1/2 hours. That's far too much time to add to the beginning of my day and far more than I need anyway. Instead, 10 to 20 minutes feels about right. It's short enough to pad the work day and long enough to complete a simple routine.

Choose Some Drills

I start my hockey warm-up alone, skating, handling the puck and shooting. Next, I spend a little time stretching. Then, I might find a teammate to work on some passing with me. Finally, the whole team wraps up with some skating, passing and shooting together.

Warming up alone, I'd choose a kata. There are many fine examples; the CodeKata blog, the KataCatalogue wiki and Katacasts are just a few. Another fun option is to solve one of the simpler problems from Project Euler. Or, solve one of those problems again but in a different language or with some interesting constraint, such as avoiding the use of if statements.

To warm up as a pair or a small group, try something physical. Some light stretching can get the blood flowing. Some teams like to do several small sets of push-ups. As you can imagine, this type of warm-up can be fun and even a little competitive.

Final Preparations

There is a break between warming up and the first drop of the puck to start the game. In the pros, while the zamboni resurfaces the ice, coaches tweak the lineup or the game plan, and players make sure their equipment is just right. In amateur hockey, there is usually just a pep talk.

I use this short time between warm-up and that first line of production code to pull the latest changes from the source code repository, kick off the test suite and make goals for the day. I know I'm ready.

Game Time!

I'm warmed up. I've stretched my mind and maybe even my body. My tools are primed. My goals are clear. It's going to be a great day!

Craig Demyanovich, Software Craftsman

Craig Demyanovich is an avid hockey player, and loves visiting new places with his wife, Sandy.