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. This 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?