By: Mike Evangelist, PT, MSPT
Pickleball has caught our country by storm. Now the fastest growing sport in the USA, pickleball is a unique mix of quickness, finesse, power, reflexes, and strategy. It is a sport for people of all ages, ranging 9 years old to 99 years old. Started in 1965, there are now an estimated 4.8 million people playing pickleball in the USA. Pickleball’s average annual growth rate over the last 5 years is 11.5%, with the average age of a player being 38 years old.
It is a sport that is bringing some people with a sedentary lifestyle back to an active lifestyle. It is a sport that brings people together in a fun, and sometimes competitive, environment. Pickleball is played in an “open format”, which allows players to mix and match with dozens of other players in a session. A 65-year-old can play on the same court as a 25-year-old, and more than hold their own.
We encourage people of all ages and athletic ability to find the nearest pickleball courts in your town and give it a try. We all have busy lives, some of us sedentary jobs at a desk, and can go weeks to months without consistent exercise in a realistic world.
Over the last several years, we have treated thousands of patients of all ages with injuries related to pickleball. Some of the most common injuries include rotator cuff (Shoulder strains), golfer’s and tennis elbow, hip strains, knee strains/sprains, Achilles tendinitis, shin splints, ankle sprains, and plantar fasciitis. All of these are avoidable with the correct preparation and a comprehensive injury prevention program.
Official indoor pickleball courts are made of silica, which provides a non-slip surface allowing players to cut and stop. However, without sufficient strength and agility, this same surface can be the root of lower extremity injuries during game play.
Before you go all out into this pickleball craze, we strongly recommend everyone to prepare your bodies for the demands of the sport.
What movements are needed to play pickleball:
- Lateral, side to side
- Forward/backwards quick movements, requiring a sharp stop to avoid the “kitchen”
- Forehand and backhand shots with dominant upper extremity
- Overhead shots
- Quick reflexes for net play
Based on the actions listed above, the following exercises will prepare you for game day. Please complete one to two times per week.
As always on game day, a dynamic warmup is recommended to get the blood flowing and the muscles moving at least 15 minutes before the start of your game.
Get your paddle, prepare your body, get on that pickleball court, and have fun!