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The wonderful thing about pickleball is that it is played by many different ages, fitness levels and abilities. Pickleball is not a dangerous game in isolation but without the proper preparation, it can lead to a few injuries.
As a seasoned pickler, I know the last thing you want is to be forced to take time off the court. Try these pickleball exercises to make sure your body is in prime condition to play.
We’ve also included some fun drills to help you refine your game.
#1 Pickleball warm-ups
As any coach, personal trainer or gym teacher will tell you, warming up before exercising is vital. When you’re playing pickleball your body uses a wide range of motions, so a dynamic warm-up is best.
Areas to warm up especially are hips, knees, waist and shoulders.
Try these pickleball exercises to warm up. 10 minutes should be enough to raise your heart rate and increase your muscle temperature.
If any of these are too challenging, you can slow down and reduce the impact.
- March on the spot for 30 seconds, keep your knees high and swing your arms as you do so.
- Run the length of two pickleball courts twice.
- Standing hip rotations- standing still, raise your right knee until your foot is parallel to the floor, move it out to the side and then back. Repeat on the other leg.
- Get as low as you can and sidestep the length of two courts twice.
- High knees with a twist – lift up your right knee and twist the left side of your body so your left elbow touches close to your knee. Walk forward and then repeat with the other side x 4
- Arm swings- stand with your arms stretched out horizontally, cross them at the front and bring them back as far as possible. Repeat 5 times
- Arm circles – stand straight and stretch your arms out to your side. Rotate your arms clockwise and anticlockwise to create imaginary circles. Repeat 5 times.
- Lunge across the length of two pickleball courts alternating legs. As you reach the ground, hold your hands together in a prayer position and rotate your body to either side. Repeat 4 times.
#2 Pickleball drills
These pickleball exercises mimic gameplay and can help you prepare whether you’re playing a tournament or recreationally. Sport is all about muscle memory so try these and see your skills improve.
- Wall drills – for beginners this is the best way to try out forehand and backhand techniques and you don’t even need a partner! Gradually increase your power as you hit a ball against the wall.
- Dinking for points – For this drill you will play pickleball as normal but you can only hit one side of the court.
- Crosscourt dinking – The same as the previous drill but slightly more challenging as the half of your partner’s court opposite you would be considered out.
- Triangle dinking – the aim of this drill is for players to hit the ball to 3 different points on the court in a logical sequence. Practice one pattern and then switch it. This helps players practice ball control.
- Back and forth drill – Both players will start at the kitchen line, one player will dink the ball over the net for the other to return. The player who returned the ball will take a step backwards, leading the first player to hit the shot deeper. Continue in this way until the player has reached the baseline.
- Skinny singles – Finish off your practice by playing pickleball as normal but only use one side of the court. This is pretty tiring but great cardio.
#3 Strengthening exercises
Increasing your strength can help you avoid injury. It is not pickleball that causes injury but a body not equipped to play it!
If you’re not already doing any other form of strength training in the gym then these pickleball exercises will help. They are all quick and simple so try to do them a few times a week until you feel tired.
- Bodyweight squats
- Cutsy lunges
- Core twists
- Planks and side planks
- Knee push ups
#4 Balance exercises
Playing pickleball requires a lot of balance. The last thing you want to do when chasing the ball is to land flat on your face!
This is an example of where what you do off the court can result in it you reaping the benefits during your game.
Yoga combines the perfect combination of strength, mobility, flexibility and endurance that can translate perfectly for pickleball.
Find a local fitness class or try to work these exercises into your day. Find out how to do the poses here.
- Tree pose
- Warrior III
- High lunge
- Chair pose
#5 Mobility exercises
Mobility training can help you jump higher, run faster and move without any pain.
Which means you can play even more pickleball of course!
As well as taking yoga classes, here are some of the best stretches to improve flexibility/ mobility.
- Cat pose – kneel on all fours with your hands shoulder-width apart, round your back and lower your head, hold for 5 seconds. Next arch your back and push your bum upwards. Try this 5 times to gently mobilize the spine
- Glute bridges – lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor and your arms by your side. Lift your butt up and down.
- Hip rotations – standing still, move your hips round in a circular motion keeping the rest of your body still until you feel them start to loosen.
- Ankle raises – Stand next to a wall and place hands there for support. Gently and slowly rock onto toes, ending on your tiptoes. After this rock back on to your heels lifting your toes off the ground.
- Tall kneeling arm raises – Kneel down, sitting with your feet under your butt, lift your hips as you rise up and raise your arms over your head. End in a tall kneeling position with arms straight, your shoulders open, without arching your back.
#6 Pickleball cool-down exercises
Cooling down is probably the most skipped step by any pickleball players. However, it really makes a difference when it comes to recuperation time.
The routine below is a short selection of stretches aimed to focus on areas that get the most attention during a game.
Hold each movement for 30-40 seconds if you are 60 or over. Those below 60 should try to hold for 60-90 seconds.
- Knee hugs
- Hamstring stretch
- Quadriceps stretch
- Hip cradles
- Lateral hip openers
- Lunge and twist
- Supine Low Back Twist
If you’re new to exercise speak to a fitness professional before attempting any of the pickleball exercises mentioned. Also, stop if you feel tired or anything that shouldn’t hurts!
Finally, remember pickleball is fun but also a part of a healthy lifestyle. So along with our exercise recommendations, make sure to hydrate, eat well, including some carbohydrates if you’ve got a long rally ahead.
Please let us know if you have any questions in the comments or say hi in our Pink Pickleball Facebook Community.