Do as I say, not as I just did

pickleball

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.

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14 comments on “Do as I say, not as I just did”

  1. Hi Jennifer and hoping to see you back in action ASAP. I play at a YMCA that has a heat sauna. I always try and get to the Y an hour early before play, turn the sauna on if not already, then go in the gym and set up the net (5 Min). Takes about 20 min for sauna to heat up, so I practice serves and drops alone while waiting for the sauna heat. That gives me about half an hour to stretch my legs with the heat. I don’t always make it to the Y early enough to do this and affects my mobility early on in play. I also use a ‘compression sleeve’ on my paddle arm also. Had tendonitis 2018 for 5-6 months (no more). Let us know when you’re back in action. 🙂

  2. Hi Jennifer. Sorry to hear about your injury. I need a 7.5 oz paddle like the MX. does engage make one? I took a camp with you gals at the JW Marriott in Phoenix a year ago. Terry

  3. Cramps and strains
    Aches and pains
    Happen even when
    We stretch and train
    It’s all apart of senior age
    As you and I are on that page
    The page that states
    Things may happen at any time
    All without those warning signs So do best for our time is short
    To excel each time we’re on the court
    Taken care recover be thankful
    Greg L

  4. That’s an important (and painful) coaching lesson. Heal fast!! Come back to Walnut Creek and play with me and Fab anytime!!
    🙂 Laura

  5. Yes, we were there too! I was a bit fearful of a covid spread, but thankfully all was well for us, anyway. Heal fast and thanks for the reminder about warm-ups!

  6. I am so so sorry this happened, and yes it sucks. I know all about sitting on the sidelines. 🤦‍♀️ You always preached the importance of warming up. You are a true role model. This too shall pass. Thank you for sharing. Hope you heal fast 🙏🏼🙏🏼🧡❤️

  7. Hi Jennifer,
    What an important article!

    I know you have always been a proponent of warming up and I have watched you and Alex first hand running and stretching. Your experience shows how important it is for tourament directors to have a contingency warm up plan. and a reminder to players how important warming up is for preventing injuries. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Richard Santomauro

    Indeed, at 67 I have learned the importance of warming up. Stretching my back, hamstrings, calf and shoulder muscles. Getting warmed up is serious business at our age. Another key is getting to and maintaining your goal weight, something I have struggled with for decades. I started playing pickleball in 2016 and have lost 55 pounds since then. I also swim 70 laps 3x per week. In 2020, I had a partial left knee replacement. That took me 4 months to heal before I could return to the courts with a lot of physical therapy (I can only imagine how long it would have taken with a full knee replacement). In March of this year I had a bad hamstring pull, not torn but it was bad enough to put me out of commission for about 6 weeks. After returning I tweaked it again in May and again in July. Now, I go to physical therapy and a massage therapist regularly in addition to my regular warm ups. It’s October, I’ve dropped another 5 pounds since August 1st, but still have 25-30 pounds to go! I am faster than ever and my play has improved a lot. The lesson? Take care of your body, or suffer the consequences of having to sit out. I am going to be playing in my first amateur tournament since 2019 on November 12th (Mixed Doubles at the Heroes Tournament in Las Vegas, Sunset Park).

  9. I feel (or felt) your pain. I’ve been involved in sports all my life and never had a calf strain until PB
    Admittedly, the first time I had one I was not much into warming up, but that one was pretty serious
    and I was on the sidelines for 6 weeks.
    After the first, I have always warmed up religiously. The second calf strain occurred in the 2nd game’
    of a “2 out of 3” match. I didn’t push off hard or anything out of the usual. Then “pop”. That one took
    us out of the tournament and another stint on the sidelines for 4 weeks.
    Hang in there, but it is definitely not fun watching from the sidelines.

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