During my 12 years of enjoying pickleball, I’ve ALWAYS made it a priority to warm up before I play. Really, every single time. When I teach, I always find a few minutes to preach about the importance of having a warm-up routine and doing it prior to getting on (or even near) a court. Cold, tight muscles are a recipe for injury. Getting injured is horrible, but even worse is not being able to enjoy your favorite sport!
I have my routine and I always warm up … until my last competition – The tournament of Champions in Utah.
This is one of my favorite big tournaments and I’ve happily supported it every year since it began – 8 years ago. In the months leading up, I’d been practicing, drilling, and focused on keeping in shape—ready to give it my all in doubles and mixed. My knees were happy too so it was time to have some fun and see what I could accomplish.
Day one was doubles and day two was mixed. Utah was getting some serious rain, uncommon for August, so plan B for Open Senior Doubles was indoor play. So, the large draws crammed onto 7 courts. Yes, this was going to be interesting and very crowded. No social distancing was happening there.
I was partnered with … you guessed it, Alex Hamner. We arrived, found a small corner to drop our stuff and the search for a warmup area began. The rain prevented a parking lot warm-up so the search was on, but was very challenging. The narrow walkways to the courts were packed, and all courts were in play. Nowhere to jog around or do any type of warmup. Ooohh, someone ended a match, all waiting competitors scurried to the court, 6 players already there, shoot. I did a bit of a jog, but really no room when someone was also hitting.
And then came the court assignment “Lucore/Hamner, time to play”! Day one, round one, match one, game one, 4th point I am cruising up to the net, push off for a volley, OUCH! I pulled my calf muscle. Never done that before! I told Alex, remember when you used to play singles? Do it again.
I hobbled through the next few rounds but was so bummed. I let my partners down (both physically and financially) and my chance to see what I could do was gone. Even worse, no play for 4 weeks.
I will continue to preach about the importance of warming up because no one enjoys sitting on the sidelines. I know!
What do you do when you get lemons? Of course, make lemonade. Alex pushed me around in a wheelchair at the Salt Lake City airport. You know we had FUN with this mode of transportation.