Before a serious play session or tournament start, I really like a thorough warm-up. I have a set sequence that takes about 30 minutes, but at the end of it, I know I'm ready to play my best. There is flexibility in the sequence, but goes like this:
- Slow dinking, straight up. Slowly increase the amount of side-to-side shots to move my partner a bit.
- Cooperative volleying at the kitchen line. Slowly increase the speed and placement of the shots, but keep the ball mostly in the air.
- Step inside the kitchen line and volley cooperatively. After a couple of minutes, start increasing the speed of shots at your partner.
- Move behind the kitchen line again, but continue faster volleys. Move the ball around more, but still within reach of your partner. Reset when a shot puts too much pressure on you.
- Dink cross court on both sides, forehand and backhand. Be sure to return to the correct court position between each shot.
- One person goes to the baseline and hits several minutes of 3rd-shot drops and drives. Have your partner move back to do the same.
- Move into the transition zone (mid-court) and hit 5th-shot drops and drives. Repeat with your partner.
- Start with one person at kitchen and one at baseline. Kitchen person starts with easy feed and the baseline person attempts to take the net with drops/drives, whatever gets them in. The person at the net tries to keep them back, but eventually will need to concede the net and they play out the rally at the net. Switch who is back after several.
- Practice some serves and returns from both sides. Really exaggerate your motion to loosen up and practice all your serve options.
- Finish with some easy volleys and dinking at the kitchen to re-establish the slow, consistent pacing and now you are really ready to play at your best.