Man and woman playing doubles pickleball


Warming up for pickleball

  • Pickleball combines elements of tennis and badminton.
  • Players should still warm up, cool down and condition to help reduce risk of injury.
  • Because the game can be played at high or low intensity, it is a perfect way for people of varying ages and abilities to get moving.

I love pickleball. It’s not just a summer sport in Minnesota and Wisconsin anymore. An increasing number of gyms are opening indoor courts, and those pickleball spots are filling up fast. Because I feel passionate about the sport and I want people to play safely, I’m sharing some tips to help reduce your chance of injury whether you’re a pickleball novice or veteran.

What is pickleball

Pickleball combines elements of tennis and badminton. All you need are two paddles, a plastic ball with holes and a court to play. The courts are smaller than tennis courts. In fact, you can fit four pickle ball courts on one tennis court.

Health benefits

As a physical therapist and former college athlete, I can’t stress enough the importance of moving your body. It’s good for the heart and your mental health. Pickleball has motivated so many people to get moving. Because the rules are easy and the sport can be high or low intensity, it is perfect for people of varying ages and athletic abilities. However, because it is so easy to learn and access, we are seeing some sprains, strains and fractures (especially wrist fractures from falls/losses of balance on the court) coming out of this sport. We can lower the risk of those if we take some simple steps to protect our bodies.

Preparing for play

  1. Warm up! I’m not talking static stretches here. Jog a few laps around the court. You can also hop on a stationary bike or take a brisk walk for five to ten minutes. Next, complete some dynamic moves like high knees and butt kicks to get those muscles prepped for play.
  2. Cool Down! This is when you engage in those static stretches for recovery and lengthening. You want to stretch those hamstrings, quads and hip adductor muscle groups (muscles in the groin/inner thigh region).
  3. Cross Train! Pickleball shouldn’t be your only source of activity. Consider adding some cross-training activities, such as swimming, yoga or biking. Also, incorporate strength and resistance training. These activities decrease injury risk, improve balance and help to increase bone density in hopes of preventing fractures if falls occur.
  4. Rest I played hockey in college, yet one of my worst injuries came from pickleball. Because we are seeing a rise in injuries linked to this sport, I want you to pay attention to your body and know your limitations. I know you want to stay on the court as much as possible but remember the importance of resting those muscles.

Pickleball is such a social game, and it brings people together from different generations and walks of life. My father introduced me to the game. It is so fun to know I can play him one day and the next, join my husband in a match against friends our age. I certainly hope my tips help more people take up this sport in the safest way possible.


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