Warm Up Drills to Accelerate Peak Performance
By Glen Peterson
While some players can pick up a paddle and perform well with very little warm up, most of begin feeling comfortable after at least a couple games. Great pickleball requires rhythm and fluid coordination of the entire body, especially for effective third shots and blazing kitchen exchanges. Warming up muscles to perfect this rhythm takes time. If you are like me, you perform best after an hour or more of uninterrupted play. It takes that long for me to get into a zone where body and mind cooperate. This is the stage of relaxed focus between being awkward and fatigued. Alas, sometimes my legs give out before I ever enter the zone! And once in a while the only zone I enter is the non-volley zone with my two big feet!
Unfortunately for many of us who compete in tournaments, our critical matches arrive with little or no notice after hours of inactivity. I have spent hours on an airplane, passed a sleepless night in a hotel, then tried to compete with some of the best players in the nation at seven in the morning with ten minutes of warm-up. I try to convince myself that I am having fun and not working!
So necessity is the mother of invention! I have discovered some techniques for maintaining the state of being in the zone for big matches without wearing myself out? Please consider these three suggestions:
- Play competitive half court singles with your partner for at least fifteen minutes just prior to your match. Keep score. By playing singles, you are hitting every ball rather than half the balls. Using the half court, either diagonal or straight up, simulates doubles. Keeping score gets you focused.
- After your first match, never sit for more than ten minutes. If you are in a tournament, between games find an open court and play fun, relaxed pickleball. Don’t push yourself. Laugh a lot. If no court is available, just hit balls back and forth with a partner.
- Whether with or without a net, before each match, bang balls back and forth with your partner. Try to hit one another with the ball. Stand less than ten feet apart. This is a good way to put a sharp edge on your reaction time and get your blood circulating. Getting popped a few times in the chest with an outdoor ball always wakes me up.
If you are a recreational player and consider this topic irrelevant, sorry! But you may just find yourself a bit stiff from sitting and find one of these tips helpful in preparing for a particular pickleball opponent.