You've heard the terms "warm up" and "cool down." You know you are supposed to do something before and after pickleball. But what, exactly?
Players often don't warm up and cool down properly beyond drinking water and sleeping.
By properly preparing your body before a match and recover after it, you can reduce your risk of injury and perform your best for longer.
Let's go over some steps to warm up and cool down effectively in pickleball. Be sure to check out all accessories deals on Pickleball Central today too.
Here are two articles regarding how a pickleball player can care for their body.
How to Warm Up Properly
Before even picking up a paddle, start with light stretching to get your muscles warmed up.
Focus on areas of your body that will be most active during the game: Your legs, lower back, shoulder, and hips.
Some effective stretches include calf, hamstring, quad stretches, ankle rolls, and side bends.
Gradually increase the intensity. Start lightly, then begin to push longer and harder, reaching as far as you comfortably can. This will help to avoid injury.
Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds to help loosen up tight muscles.
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Next, do some dynamic warm-up drills to get your heart rate up and get your body moving.
Examples of dynamic drills include jogging, skipping, and high knees. Do a lap or two around the court and some quick bursts. Swing the paddle a bit in the air, loosening your shoulder.
Mimic pickleball movements such as air swings, reaching and rotating naturally. Do it for at least five minutes.
Start with low intensity and increase it to get your heart rate up. You will feel loose and warm by the time you begin actually playing.
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Once you're warm, it's time to pick up the paddle and get your touch and timing down.
Begin with simple shots up close, mostly dinking to the feet of your partner.
Take turns moving back and up again. Practice blocks and attacks, getting your hand-eye coordination and reaction time calibrated. Be mindful of proper footwork.
Do all the routine shots. Dinks, resets, and a bit of speed-ups. Focus on accuracy, only getting to power shots at the very end.
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Finally, take a few minutes to loosen up your muscles once more before starting the game, as there may be a gap between the end of warmup and the start of a match.
Continue to do movements similar to pickleball strokes, and also just hop around! This is more about staying loose than anything else.
Consider a compression sleeve, which keeps muscles feeling loose all session long.
How to Cool Down
Ok, your match is over. Most folks pack up their bag and head to the car.
Not you! After a pickleball match, it's important to cool down properly to help your body begin recovery. Start by performing light cardio exercises to normalize your heart rate.
Reduce your intensity to allow your heart rate to return to a normal state.
Walk or jog lightly for at least five minutes to help your body return to normal. Lastly, incorporate light stretching into your cool-down to help your muscles relax.
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Once your heart rate is back to normal, take some time to stretch your muscles.
This will help prevent soreness later! It will help your muscles not lock up on you. Focus on areas that worked the most during play, and hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds.
Most important areas to relax include legs, lower back, shoulders, and hips.
Start lightly, and gradually increase the intensity until you can feel the pull.
[Guide: The best recovery tools after playing pickleball]
Finally, be sure to drink plenty of fluids after your match to help replace sweat you lost.
Players overlook this step. Drink more than you think you need! And not just water, but replace the electrolytes too.
Drink immediately after the game to begin the process. Drink electrolyte supplements to help replace the lost vitamins and minerals you sweated out. Continue to drink fluids consistently throughout the rest of the day as you recover.
Browse Jigsaw Health supplements on Amazon, a reputable pickleball hydration aid.
Foam Rolling (Bonus)
To further assist in recovery, consider using a foam roller to massage tight muscles. Roll each muscle group for a few minutes, focusing on any areas that feel particularly tight or sore.
Target areas that were most active during the game, namely legs and lower back.
Roll slowly over the foam roller to help your muscles relax. It might hurt a bit, but it will hurt less than the soreness it prevents!
Guide: How to sleep better and relieve muscles after playing pickleball.
Warm Up and Cool Down Summary
Their importance cannot be stressed enough for pickleball players and their body.
Most avid and frequent players overlook the recovery and injury prevention basics.
Any newer, avid, developing pickleball player should focus on these, as they can help you enjoy the game for longer!
By taking the time to properly prepare your body before a match and recover after it, you can reduce the risk of injury and perform at your best for longer.
Incorporating light cardio, stretching, and hydration into your pre and post-game routines can help provide you with a successful and happy pickleball "career!"
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