Warming up for your Pickleball game is not only better for how hot you come out of the gate on that first shot, but it’s also key for your body as well. Whether you’re a fresh-out-of-high-school 18-year-old or you’re a Legend in our 35+ league, the best advice I could ever give you is to warm-up before your game (…and then stretch afterwards, I promise your body will thank you). The best news? You can get in a killer warm-up in only five minutes. In these five drills, you and your opponent should be opposite each other on the court. We’ll start in the kitchen and work our way backwards to the end of the court, so you’re placed where you need to be to start the game. Clever, right?
Goal: Split-step every time your practice partner hits the ball.
Get in that kitchen for this one! A split-step is a quick hop with your knees bent and your feet shoulder-width apart. Make sure you are on the balls of your feet with your weight distributed equally between your two feet, and bring your paddle up to the ready position. This is a great ‘neutral’ position, which will allow you to move whichever way the ball goes during the game. Go ahead, split-step a little to get the feel for it. As you complete the rest of the drills, practice doing a split-step each time your opponent is about to hit the ball.
Goal: Don’t give your opponent the opportunity to hit a put-away shot at your feet.
We’re right at that kitchen line for this one and you can begin by simply dinking the ball back and forth with your opponent. If they pop the ball UP, fire a volley or put-away shot back at them. Your goal is to make sure that the ball is always coming off your paddle at a downward angle over the net. Mix it up while you practice! Try hitting a few forehand dinks, followed by a few backhand dinks.
#3: Mid-Court Power Shots + Drop Shots
Goal: Make sure that every drop shot you hit forces your opponent to let the ball bounce!
After drilling at the kitchen line in #2, take a few steps back to mid-court and practice hitting five power shots on your forehand side, then five on your backhand side. After, switch to five drop shots on your forehand and another five on your backside. You know it’s a good drop shot if you have forced your opponent to let the ball bounce in their kitchen before they get to it!
#4: Baseline Power Shots + Drop Shots
Goal: Get all but two shots over the net!
Take another few steps back! From the baseline, repeat the previous drill. Hit five power shots on your forehand side, then five on your backhand side. After, switch to five drop shots on your forehand and another five on your backside.
#5: Serves & Returns
Goal: Hit all of your serves and returns high, deep, and slow (…that’s what she said!).
Finally, hit approximately three serves and three returns, aiming to place the ball within 2-3 feet of your opponent’s baseline!
Look at you, you’re all warmed up! Now get out there and get that ‘W’ (… in a fun-first manner, of course).