The ultimate pickleball warm-up cardio workout… is a mouthful to say. So, what exactly does this long title mean, and why should you watch the video below?
Incorporating an excellent warm-up into your pre-game routine is paramount if you want to step up your pickleball game. This warm-up includes no paddle work but is designed to increase your heart rate, loosen joints and muscles, and prepare you to play. Performed by Robert Leonard, one of the top pickleball instructors in the nation, the video is divided into two sections. First, Robert explains each individual exercise in the warm-up. Then, Robert performs the full-timed warm-up at minute 4:06. There are five exercises, each one minute long, with a thirty-second break between each.
The first exercise in the series is butt kicks and high knees. These are not the most high-intensity exercises in the warm-up and are placed first to get the muscles in your legs loose. Butt kicks and high knees help increase the range of motion in the lower body and work on the forward/backward plane.
The second exercise in the series is shuffling. This more intensive exercise is designed to get your blood pumping and increase your heart rate and cardiovascular activity. Be sure to keep your torso low and maintain a good posture through the entire warm-up. While working on your side-to-side movement, it's crucial that you keep your motion efficient by taking long steps.
The third exercise in the series is shoulder rotations. Part of placing this exercise third is to give you a break since you should now be tired from exercises one and two. It’s so important to loosen your shoulders before playing pickleball, especially as you start hitting the ball harder and harder in your game. Stiff shoulders are very common in racket sports since you are swinging so much. Therefore, it’s vital to get your shoulders loosened up before playing.
The fourth exercise in the series is the split-step karaoke. This exercise is more dynamic since it reinforces hitting a return and running to the no-volley zone. Returning and running in pickleball is essential; this exercise helps improve that movement. Upon approaching the no-volley area, we end a split-step as momentum stops, allowing us to react quickly and move side-to-side. We karaoke back to the starting point, helping open our hips by twisting and improving our range of motion.
The fifth and final exercise is the drop-shot lunge. Keep your arms nice and gentle as you perform these while letting your legs do the work. Most of your muscle mass is in your legs, so what a waste not to use them when hitting a drop shot. Always keep the paddle out in front of you and never drop it out of position to hit a lunging shot. You must stay on your toes and off your heels as you backpedal to the starting position. If you are on your heels while moving backward, you risk injury on the court, as you may recall from the pickleball mistakes video.