“Rules” of Warmup

Larry Back (Crootof photo)

You are getting ready to play a big league or tournament match and during the warmup you hardly get a few good shots to hit.  What’s going on?

Racquet Toss

To start with, the toss of the racquet and choice of serve/sides should take place BEFORE the warmup begins; so the first server has a chance to take their practice serves on the side they will begin on.


You are standing at the net and your baseline opponent is CRUSHING the ball – either at you or out of your reach.  They should not be warming up their ground stroke winners; but instead, should be feeding you the kind of practice volley shots you want.


And then when it comes time for your overhead practice, they cannot feed you a ball that isn’t either way over your head and landing near the baseline or so short you are running towards the net to hit it.

And instead of catching the ball and giving you the best feed possible, they are practicing their “gets” off your overheads.

Those are my warmup “rules,” what are yours??

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5 thoughts on ““Rules” of Warmup

  1. For me it’s a sense of cooperation with your opponent in the warm up! Often we’ll play mini tennis in the first 5 or 10 minute, then baseline then volleys, overheads, etc, but all cooperatively.

    Jim, that is what it SHOULD be! Thanks. George

  2. Your rules happen to be part of the tennis code. You can ootbtomwarm up with your partner. That is if you cannot get a proper warm up.

    Bill, “Great minds…”. and what is “ootbtomwarm “? george

  3. Can you request a hybrid warm up – everything up to serves “normal”, with opponents but serve warm up to partner? I do not like my opponents practicing return of serve against my serve. Can always opt to do total warm up with my partner but is it OK to switch when serving warm up?

    Winder, you can “request” anything! I don’t know a real answer or rule or protocol. george

  4. George, I agree 100%. When the examples that you mention have happened to me in doubles warm up in the past, I have done the following in this order:

    (1) Asked the opposing player (nicely) to tone it down a bit, pointing out in a friendly way that the purpose of warm up is exactly that – to warm up both oneself and the opponent. It is not to try to hit winners or hit the ball at 300 mph or hit passing shots or hit topspin lob winners. Usually this is enough to elicit a “sorry, I didn’t realize I was doing that response” and all is righted.

    (2) But if (1) does not work after a first request, then I tend to get a bit sarcastic/ snarky, and I have been known to ask the opponent if his intention is to “win the warmup.” By this point I have generally figured out the opponent is an a$$hole and that is that. (I have also resolved that the very first high volley poach or overhead winner I manage to get in the real match is going to be aimed right at his chest, but that is a different matter.) So, in order to complete the warmup before time runs out, I have ….

    (3) Suggested to my partner that we switch sides for a bit so he can warm up against the a$$hole and I will hit against the other guy.

    While I am aware that one can spend the entire warmup hitting against one’s own partner, I have generally not found this to be a viable alternative in a tournament match. This is because going through the (1) to (3) sequence above usually eats up all of the 5 minute warmup time that one typically gets in a tournament and there simply is not enough time to do it. Of course, if I were playing against an opponent that I knew from past experience might be an a$$hole in warmup, then I might suggest doing this from the start. But so far, I haven’t found enough times for this to happen with a bad warmup opponent that I knew about ahead of time.

    In singles, it is a bit different. You can’t switch with your partner as in doubles and you don’t have a partner to go hit with elsewhere. You just have to grin and bear it if your opponent turns out to be a genuine a$$hole. But I will not hesitate to use suggestions (1) and (2) above liberally with my opponent to try to make something useful out of the warmup even if that turns out to be difficult. Fortunately, there haven’t been that many warmup a$$holes that I have encountered over the years for this to be a frequent occurrence. It isn’t.

    Marty, I like your logic! Thanks. George

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