If you’ve competed in a tournament, you know the importance of a proper warm-up–not only jogging, butt kicks, and dynamic stretching but also dinks, third shot drops, and ground strokes. Many players find it is helpful to play a rec game or two before the tournament begins. Unfortunately, most tournaments are unable to provide warmup courts, which limits the time spent on practice shots before court assignment. Fortunately, there are things you can do to mitigate the lack of warm-up courts.
First, plan ahead. If your bracket starts early and you know that warm-up courts won’t be available once the tournament begins, show up at the tournament venue at least 90 minutes early. Pre-arrange an early-morning rec game so you don’t have to seek out random people to play with you.
If your bracket starts late in the morning or in the afternoon, stop by a separate pickleball facility en route to the tournament and warm up properly there. It won’t be ideal because there will be a large time gap between your warmup and your first tournament game, but it’s better than nothing.
Once at the venue, you and your partner can dink on a sidewalk over an imaginary net. If your partner isn’t available, find a wall. As Dayne Gingrich always advocates, walls are a pickleballer’s best friend! As tournament play proceeds, watch for courts to become available between matches. You may be able to use courts to warm up during these gaps, even if only for a few minutes.
These are a little bit extreme, but Shea Underwood has more creative alternatives for warming up, lol:
Make sure your phone is fully charged and be on the lookout for your court assignment (usually delivered via text message). Once assigned to a court, proceed quickly in order to maximize time spent on your on-court warmup. Every minute spent off court after your court has been assigned (for example, going to the bathroom or chatting with your competitors), is a minute less spent on your pre-game warmup.
Speaking of which, here’s a nice Zane Navratil video of his warmup routine. Let’s go!