Before you play a match, you have your obligatory “warm-up.” Too often, players waste this time hitting shots that they probably won’t be using during the match, and effectively won’t help them. Don’t waste your time wasting your time! When you get your warm-up time, have a routine. Everyone can personalize their routine, but I would recommend practicing the following:
• Forehand dinks to the middle of the court, to the middle of your side, and to the sideline of your side – about 3-5 dinks to each spot. Repeat with backhand.
• 3rd shot drop. I use a “slinky” drill, where you and your partner start at the No-Volley-Line (NVL) and hit 2 dinks. After that, one of you takes a step back after each dink, until you have stepped all the way back to the baseline. This helps you practice your 3rd shot drop from various spots on the court, and also prepares you for a 5th or 7th (or more!) shot drop, as you work your way to the NVL. After getting to the
baseline, hit 3-5 drops into the kitchen then hit a 3rd shot drive. After the drive, take a step in and start working your way back up to the NVL, one step at a time, dropping each shot into the kitchen. Once you have gotten back up to the kitchen, have your partner do the same thing. After some practice, this part of the warm-up should only take about 2-4 minutes.
• The following warm-ups should be done on a needs basis, and only for a short time (30 seconds maybe): “fast volleys” prepare your reflexes and get your volleys solid, overheads, serves and returns, 3rd shot drives.
Altogether, this routine should only take about 6-8 minutes, which leads to the importance of listening carefully for your match to be called, since the “warm-up” time technically starts when they call your match. So be ready, have a routine, and listen carefully when your team is close to being called.