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How To Warm Up Properly Before a Pickleball Match

February 03, 2023

Knowing how to warm up properly before a pickleball match is important if you want to prevent a severe injury and improve your game on the court.

There’s a reason why the most decorated professional athletes in the world can compete at the highest level for decades. Preparation and conditioning are integral for even the most gifted athletes, considering their extraordinary talent can only take them so far. This notion holds even in pickleball, so it’s in your best interest to learn how to warm up properly before a pickleball match. 

Get Your Body Right

The days of rolling right out of bed to play your favorite sports are probably behind you. As much as we’d like to pretend we don’t need to prepare our body for a vigorous day of pickleball, you’ll be vulnerable to injury if you don’t warm up. You don’t need to train like you’re preparing for a decathlon, but you should do some of the following vital exercises before you hit the court. 


Pickleball requires you to make sharp transitions to return a shot. Many of those shots involve lengthy lunges that could lead to strains and tears without the proper warmup. To practice lunging, put your feet together and step forward, going as low as possible while you do. Your glutes, hip flexors, and other running muscles will be ready to fire on all cylinders.

Side Shuffles
Shuffling side-to-side on the pickleball court should be easier after successfully completing your lunges. Lateral quickness is paramount in pickleball, and these shuffles prepare you for it. 

High Knees
This exercise prepares your body for more complex movement, since you’ll need to know how to bend, stretch, or dash across the court. 

Trunk Twists
Most of these exercises focus on your lower body, but trunk twists are necessary to support and strengthen your upper body, back, and spine. After all, a bad back will inhibit your movement around the court, hurting your overall play.

Arm Circles and Swings
You may not feel the aftermath of a rousing afternoon of pickleball in your arms until the next day. However, your arms may feel like Jell-O in the morning from the hours of full-effort shots. Doing arm circles and swings beforehand should help minimize the gelatin-like feeling the following day. 

Dink Around
With the most grueling aspect of your warmup routine complete, you can begin focusing on your skills. Unlike tennis, which relies on power, pickleball is more about finesse. The bulk of the shots you’ll have in pickleball are dinking shots. Finding the feel for the dink shot is imperative if you want to be on top of your game, so take time before you compete and get some shots in. 
Whether with your partner or a friendly competitor, start in the kitchen and dink the ball back and forth as if you were playing catch. The goal during this warmup is to paint the corners of the court with extreme precision. Doing this exercise will establish muscle memory for when the games begin. However, try to limit this period to a handful of shots because you won’t have the opportunity to practice dink shots for 10-plus minutes at a tournament. 

Front-to-Back & Reverse It
After finding your touch for the ever-so-important dink shot, you can shift your attention to other shots in your repertoire. Shots near the back of the court can trouble even the most seasoned players, so you should work your way backward after the dinking commences. 
Once again, start in the non-volley zone with your hitting partner. After your first shot in the kitchen, take a step back toward the baseline. Your goal of hitting it in the kitchen remains the same, but you will need extra oomph with each step you take. Completing this warmup drill should give you the confidence to defend the entirety of the court instead of just one area. 
You can repeat this same drill while starting from the back and working your way forward. Gradually move up the court until you both reach the kitchen. Doing this should help with footwork when you need to hustle and get to those perfectly-located shots. 

Third-Shot Drop’s the Charm
Everything you’ve tried up to this point should prepare you to practice the next shot—the third-shot drop. Third-shot drops are vital to every pickleball player’s arsenal because they allow you or your partner to get in position near the kitchen line. 
The goal for any pickler is to attack their opponent’s weakness, which is typically farther back on the court. Because your opposition will try to land the ball toward the back line when they can, the third-shot drop is a must-have because it flips the script.
Your opponent will be on the defensive if you land a third-shot drop as planned, as the pickleball will barely cross the net but still land on the other side. However, it may take hours of practice to get the ball to do what you want.
Use Your Catlike Reflexes for Volleying
Accurate shots that act as a homing missile will significantly improve your game. However, a lot of the action in pickleball demands that you have the quick hands of a karate blackbelt. When two players hover over the non-volley zone, the game turns into a game of hot potato. Volley shots are about getting the paddle on the ball, and during a fast-paced rally, that can be a tall order. Fortunately, completing a volleying warmup session should put you in a good position to walk away with a win.

Put a Bow on It 
The final goal for your warmup is putting all the pieces together that make you feel agile, strong, and confident about your game. A quick 3–5 point scrimmage with a partner will give you a chance to get an idea of how you are feeling that day. Hopefully, you don’t feel any muscles tense up, and your shots are satisfactory. If you check all the boxes, the only thing standing in your way is your adversary on the other side of the net.  
Knowing how to warm up properly before a pickleball match is essential if you want to retain a clean bill of health and enhance your game. Another way to guarantee you’re playing at your maximum potential is acquiring the needed equipment and apparel at Fromuth Pickleball. Fromuth also has a wonderful array of pickleball shoes, allowing you to wear what the pros wear! 

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