The importance of a good warm up

Last summer I traveled to Europe where I played in a tournament in the Netherlands, then visited pickleball friends in South London and Lancashire, England. One of the many highlights of this trip was assisting Elaine Shallcross in a drills and skills sessionelaine1 with a club she helped to start in northwest England.  Elaine is considered a world ambassador of pickleball.  She has helped grow pickleball in the Lancashire area, as well as in her winter home of Hua Hin, Thailand.  She has played in many international tournaments, as well as in the United States.

The theme of the session was the importance of a good warm up.

*I will now give credit to Elaine for the subject and content of the rest of this post.

So often when our playing time is limited due to of our own busy lives, court availability, or because we are asked to keep our warm ups short to accommodate a large number of players, we dink a few shots and jump right into the game. Basically, we don’t really warm up at all.

A good warm up should not be just to get your body moving. It’s also the time for you to practice every shot you might use in the game. It doesn’t take that long. Doing each shot for a minute or two helps you to be prepared for those shots during the game. If time is tight, even 30 seconds with each shot is better than nothing.

When you step onto the court for the first time, whether in recreational play or when warming up for a tournament, do the following quick drills:

  • dinking directly across the net
  • dinking cross court – both forehand and backhand
  • third shot drops
  • drive shots from the baseline
  • kitchen line volleys
  • overhead shots from lobs.

From my personal experience with the short warm up times allowed in tournaments, I would suggest starting with a few direct dinks, followed by third shot drops for touch (both players), and then a few quick kitchen line volleys to give your muscles a quick jolt.

All this can be accomplished in a 2-3 minute warm up and will help you start your game running!

Lastly, remember that a good warm up is just that…..a time for you to move and warm up your muscles.  It’s good to hit shots that cause each other to move side to side, but don’t hit put away shots.  It just wastes time having to chase the ball, and no one cares who wins the warm up!

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