Pickleball is one of the fastest growing, most popular sports in the country right now.

According to the 2022 Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) Single Sport Report on Pickleball “Pickleball grew in 2021 to 4.8 million players in the US.” And while the average age is 39 years old, more than 30% of the “core players” – people who play more than 8 times a year – are 65+. As a physical therapist I have had tons of questions about injuries and how to avoid them. So, I figured it was time to put it in a blog and get the information all together in one spot.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”- Benjamin Franklin

Inevitably, as with any type of sport or physical endeavor, the list of common injuries keeps on growing. Injuries range from general sprains and strains to more serious rotator cuff injuries, as well as elbow and Achilles tendinitis which can require treatment and keep you off the court for a prolonged period. Why is prevention so important? Because it keeps you healthy, safe and on the court (or field). So, what can you do to avoid minor (or major) injuries?

Warmup – increases your body temperature and gets blood flowing to your muscles by gradually activating your cardiovascular system. (See below for more info about the importance of warming up)

Cool down – as important as a warmup to slowly bring your heart rate down and regulate your body temperature and help avoid muscle soreness post activity.

Stay hydrated – It’s important to stay hydrated not only while you were playing or afterwards but staying hydrated consistently decreases the risk of cramps and muscle spasms (See below for more info about staying hydrated)

Vitamins – that’s right vitamins play an important part in keeping you on the court and ready to play. (See below for info about avoiding cramps with food)

Why warm up?

Let’s start by talking about the importance of warming up, what a good warm up looks like, and how to incorporate it into your pregame routine.

  • Kick starts your cardiovascular system
  • Increasing body temperature thereby decreasing risk of muscle/tendon injury
  • Increasing blood flow and much needed oxygen to muscles
  • Dilates blood vessels making it easier for your heart to pump blood

What does a good warmup consist of?

  • It should last for about 5 minutes
  • Can be as simple as power walking around the court for 5 minutes OR
  • A complex series of activities that are all designed to get your heart pumping such as jumping- jacks, marching in place, lunges, or mountain climbers.

Remember, the goal is to get warm and get your blood pumping

You should feel warm and have some sweat going when you are done with your warmup. It’s also important to warmup immediately prior to the start of your match (or another event). Warmups are useless if you do them at home then drove 10-15 min to the court.

Make sure to add some sport specific exercises to your warmup routine

Not only is it important to perform a good warm-up prior to starting your activity, in this case a Pickleball match, it’s also important to do sport specific exercises if possible.

What are some good pre-Pickleball exercises?

I have developed some Pickleball specific exercises you can do daily, as well as during your warm-up to help get you ready for your match and keep you on the court. Click the link below for you free copy! (You can download and print the exercises as well as access video demonstrations of the proper way to perform the exercises)

Pickleball Warm – up exercises

Links with more info:

All you need to know about Pickleball can be found here: USA Pickleball

Here is some good info about how to stay properly hydrated: Family doctor – hydration

More info about foods that can help you avoid cramping: Web MD – Avoid cramps

There is more info here from the Mayo Clinic about the importance/benefits of good warm- up and cool down routines: Mayo Clinic – stay healthy Dr. Shannon L Cabral, PT @2022.