The Warm-Up

Posted on: November 15th, 2011 by Charlie 7 Comments


Activate the body and prevent injury before you step onto the court
Everybody has a different way of warming up. Some players like to get to the club early, run, bike, stretch, hit, and really loosen up. Others like to show up 10 minutes before a game, put their shoes on, hit the ball a few times, then use the first game as their warm-up. I can’t say that I haven’t been a in both of these situations, and I think most avid players will say the same thing. I strongly recommend that you get a good warm-up in before you play, I think everyone will tell you the same.

The benefits to a good warm-up:

  • It allows you to play at full speed right out of the gate.
  • You get a full rotation on your shots, which means more power.
  • You can lunge and stretch for balls.
  • Your mind is activated.
  • You are much less likely to pull a muscle or injury yourself (This one is most important).

Since everyone is different it is important to find a routine that works for you. I emphasize the word “routine” because it should be just that, a routine. Your routine should be the same every time, and you should do it before practice and competition. The reason you do the same for both is to train the body the same way every time you play. If you switch your routine your body will react differently, and in turn you will be less confident and less consistent. People often say that athletes are superstitious. That might be true, but I think it has more to do with routine than superstition. Athletes find a routine that works for them, then they do their best to replicate it every time. Athletes do not like to be thrown out of their routine, ever.

Here is my warm-up (IN ORDER) for practice AND competition:

  • First and foremost I like to get away from everyone. I am not the friendliest person before I play a serious match, although I wish it weren’t the case. Some people can socialize and have a good time before they play, and I applaud them, but it doesn’t work for me. I usually listen to music and face away from the public. Then I start my stretching…
  • Dynamic Stretching – involves movement as apposed to holding a stretch for long periods of time. This is something I have learned recently. Although I never had problems with stretching in the past, one of my trainers informed me of the times to do certain stretching. Before activity it is best to move your body to stretch. Movement and dynamic stretching warms up the joints but keeps the muscles contracted instead of lengthened. Although you have probably heard that longer muscles are stronger, stretched muscles are weaker. I have 10 dynamic stretches that I do before activity. They would take a while to explain, but they consist of neck movements, torso twists, arm movements, high knees, butt kicks, legs swings, etc. I recommend YouTube – search “dynamic stretching”.
  • Once I have done my 10 stretches I will find a space to do footwork. Shuffles, lunges, short bursts, etc. ┬áThis gets me ready for the movements I will see in the match. Like I mentioned earlier, I like to be ready right away and not take a few points to fully get into the match.
  • Once my court is ready I like to start with forehands. I don’t drop and hit, I’ve just never really liked it. I usually just hit it back to myself repeatedly at first, then I will start hitting set-ups, overheads, then switch to backhand. Then I hit some serves, step out of the court, change my glove, then I am ready.

It is a routine that works for me.

What does your warm up routine consist of?

7 Responses

  1. Nick Hansen says:

    Great routine Charlie. Good thing your young. The older you get, the less you do it and the more you need it. Thus the injuries. The few words you say to yourself. I would assume maybe a visualization of what you want to do on the court such as picturing yourself hitting the ball and moving on the court. This was the best part of my preparation, which was similar to yours along with about 5 minutes in the Jacuzzi to let the hot water loosen my body up. Hey great stuff, as I see many good players just show up and walk in. Then they wonder why they lose their first game and their last game is always their best game.

    • Charlie says:

      Hey Nick, glad you like the routine! The words I say to myself are usually different every time. Depending on the person I’m playing and my strategy going in. I just like to remind myself what the gameplan is.

      I agree with you, many players go without a proper warm-up. I see it on tour a lot. To each is own, but I personally like to get nice and loose, for full range of motion and less chance of injury.

      Remind me of your visual routine you taught me a few years back. I think we would all like to hear it.

  2. Brett says:

    Hey, I really like the article and this site is awesome! Just had a few questions about specifics of the warm-up stage. For your warm up…what is the intensity of 10 minutes on the bike and 5 minutes on the treadmill? I take it it’s not too strenuous, but then again I feel like if you break a sweat at the beginning of the biking segment and still have 30+ minutes of activity remaining that the warm-up would be too hard. Also jogging or biking slowly would seem to activate slow twitch movements that might slow you down during the game. And do you do dynamic or static stretching? Do you focus on the legs or arms or anything in particular when stretching?

    • Charlie says:

      Hey Brett, good question about the biking and jogging. I am not going at a very high speed or with very much resistance on the bike. It is not meant to be hard, just enough to warm the legs a little. On the tredmill, I raise it up to a 3% incline and do fast feet while staying on my toes. This actually helps activate fast switch muscles. I am not really jogging at all, it’s more like climbing a hill doing fast feet. It also happens to be part of my training. I do the same thing in practice only much more intense and for a lot longer.

      To answer your question about dynamic and static stretching, yes, I do both when I am in the gym doing footwork. It really helps me get a torque on the ball when I first step on the court.

      What kind of static and dynamic stretching do you do, Brett?

  3. Dirk Newnam says:

    Great routine Charlie, I’ll echo Nick’s comment above. Helps to be young. My routine was much like this back when I was playing Nick in Boise 24years ago now. Now it’s truly for the single purpose of not getting hurt in the first game. Bad low back. I add some other stretching for my particular case. Not as long these days balancing warm up with overuse injuries and then play. I’d love to link a post on my blog to yours here if that’s ok with you! Great to see what a current professional does.

    • Charlie says:

      Hey Dirk, thanks for the comment. Glad you are still getting a good warm-up and looking out for your health. You absolutely may link this to your page, it would be my pleasure. Feel free to link anything and everything on my site. Spread the love!

      Love the feedback.

      Charlie

  4. When are you going to submit again? You genuinely entertain me!

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