What's The Best Pickleball Warm Up To Prevent Injuries?
Use this 5-minute pickleball warm up routine to stay on the court injury-free.
Why Warm Up Before Playing Pickleball?
Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America and with good reason: it appeals to people of all ages.
In particular, pickleball appeals to older adults who may not be able to run as fast as younger players.
The pickleball court is half the size of a traditional tennis court and so you don't have to be quite as fit or agile as you do to play tennis.
However, that comes with a downside as well:
You take older players who may be a little more sedentary, less fit, and not have the benefit of coaching that many competitive tennis players, and they're coming out onto the court with minimal to no warm up.
That's a recipe for disaster!
The Traditional 5-Minute Pickleball Warm Up
The perceived need to warm up in pickleball is a whole lot less than in tennis.
In fact, average warm ups are less than five minutes and most of the time they just consist of doing things to warm up your nervous system such as getting a feel for the ball and the paddle and getting your coordination down.
However, the traditional pickleball warm up doesn't really warm up your body!
In order to prevent injuries playing pickleball you need to warm up your muscles and joints.
Because there's only 14 feet from one Kitchen Line to the other, you often have to be able to react rather quickly in order to prevent injury.
In order to do so you'll have to be able to squat, thrust, hit, duck, and cover the court in fractions of a second.
If your body isn’t ready for these movements, you can pull a hamstring, twist an ankle, wrench your back, even tweak your hitting elbow.
Many Pickleball Warm Ups Are Too General Or Too Intense
Many of the pickleball warm up videos that I've seen on YouTube are either too general and look more like the creator just duplicated from how they warmed up when playing high-school football or soccer (after all, pickleball wasn't around back then).
Or, they're way too intense for your average 40-80 year old who plays pickleball.
Middle-age to older adults may not be able to do high-knees or karaoke for example.
And even if they can, you don't have to do things like that in pickleball.
You don't want your warm-up to be more intense than the actual sport that you're going to play, and you certainly don't want to get injured during your
So in the rest of this post, I'll go through a pickleball warm up suited to people of all ages. And, you can do it in 5-minutes or so before getting on the court and doing your warm-up shots.
My Pickleball Warm Up To Prevent Injuries
First of all you just want to get your body moving and get some blood flowing.
Depending on you fitness level, that may mean walking or jogging around the court.
If you don't have the space to do that where you play, do it out in the parking lot before you come in.
The Specific Warm Up Exercises
Once you've gotten your body moving, you want to get into some of the specific movements that you're going to do while playing pickleball in order to specifically warm up those muscles.
Athletic Stance and Squats
Get into an athletic position with your knees slightly bent and spine straight.
From there, gently bend your knees and do a few partial squats to get your hip and thigh muscles warmed up and your knee joints lubricated so that you can get low to hit a Dink.
10-20 partial squats should do the trick. Make sure you only go as low as you can comfortably without your knees bothering you.
Additionally you do want to warm up your calves because rolling an ankle or tearing an Achilles are fairly common pickleball injuries in people age 55 and above who come out on the court without warming up.
Go up and down on 10-20 reps. You jut need enough to get the blood flowing into your calf muscles and prevent an Achilles injury.
Let's say you need to react and be able to take a side step to cover a ball that's being hit to the side of you.
You want to push off one leg and be able to get out to the side and also push off the other leg and get out to the other side.
You don't need to necessarily need to shuffle all the way back and forth across the court, but you should be able to do 1-2 shuffles to each side to cover your side of a doubles court.
What if a ball is hit in front
of you and you need step forward and hit a low ball.
To do that, you have to be able to take a lunge step and then recover your balance without falling.
To do a lunge correctly and you want to keep your knee and your toes in alignment. Don't allow your knee to go in front on your toes, or to the inside of your toes in order to prevent knee pain when doing lunges.
Do 5-10 lunges with each leg, again only as deep as you can comfortably and without losing your balance.
You don't want to neglect your upper body during your warm up. Rotator Cuff Injuries or elbow injuries like tennis elbow are fairly common in pickleball players, so you want to make sure to get your arms moving.
Start out doing small arm circles and just getting gradually wider. You want to be able to get a full range of motion out of your hitting shoulder so if you can hit an overhead smash if the opportunity arises.
Elbow, Forearms, and Wrist Exercises
Finally, you want to get your wrist and forearm muscles moving because your forearm muscles are actually what causes tennis elbow. Roll your wrists around a
little bit get those muscles warmed up and moving. Then then practice extending your elbows a few times as if hitting a backhand.
It's good to do it with both arms even if you do just hold the paddle with one hand.
Now you're ready to go do your on-the-court warm-up doing practice shots.
Hopefully by implementing the tips in this warm up, you'll be able to stay on the court injury-free.
Need Help For A Pickleball Injury?
If you're already dealing with an injury that's affecting your pickleball game, fill out the form below to request a Free Pickleball Injury Consult