Pickleball is a fun, fast-paced game that players of all ages can enjoy. But to play your best, you need to warm up first. These 9 pickleball warm-up exercises will help get your body ready for the court and decrease the chances of injury.
Why You Should Warm Up Before Playing
The main reason to warm up before pickleball is to reduce the risk of injury. Playing pickleball without warming up makes you more likely to pull a muscle or injure a joint. A proper warm-up can help loosen your muscles and joints and prepare your body for pickleball's demands.
The Most Common Pickleball Injuries
The most common pickleball injuries are strains and sprains.
Strains are caused by overstretching the muscle, while sprains are tears or ruptures of the ligaments.
Tennis elbow is another common injury, which is a pain in the outside of the elbow caused by overuse. Other injuries include rotator cuff tears, Achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis.
9 Easy Warm-Up Exercises You Can Do With No Equipment
1. Arm circles
This exercise activates: Shoulders, elbow joints, biceps, triceps
Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your arms out to the sides, parallel to the ground. Make large circles with your arms, going forward and then backward. Do 10 circles in each direction.
You can do either one arm at a time or both at once - whatever feels most comfortable and natural to you. It's an excellent exercise for people who suffer from rotator cuff injuries or general tightness in the shoulders.
This exercise activates: Hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Optionally, clasp your hands behind your head. Lift one knee up as high as you can and hold for a few seconds before lowering it back to the ground. Repeat with the other leg. Continue marching for 30 seconds.
3. Ankle circles
This exercise activates: Ankle joints, calves
Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend one ankle and rotate it in a circular motion 10 times. Repeat with the other ankle.
4. Leg Swings
This exercise activates: Hips, groin, hamstrings, quads
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Grab a wall or something similar for your stability. While keeping one leg in place, swing the other leg from left to right in front of the stationary leg. Keep both legs slightly bent and control the exercise to avoid over-stretching.
5. Butt kicks
This exercise activates: Quads, hamstrings, calves
Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Bring one heel up towards your butt and hold for a few seconds before lowering it back to the ground. Repeat with the other leg. Continue kicking for 30 seconds.
This exercise activates: Glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves
Standing with feet hip-width apart, take a big step forward with one leg and lower yourself down until both knees are at a 90-degree angle. Keep your back straight and core engaged throughout the entire movement. Pause for a few seconds before pushing back up to starting position and repeating on the other side. Do 10 lunges total.
7. Quad stretch
This exercise activates: Quads
Starting on all fours, bring one foot up towards your butt so you can grab it with your hand (or use a strap if you have one). Hold for 30 seconds before switching legs.
You may be familiar with the simpler "standing" version of the quad stretch, but I find that this variation targets the quads with a better stretch throughout the muscle. If this movement feels unnatural to you, the standard standing quad stretch will work just fine.
8 . Chest stretch
This exercise activates: Pecs (chest), shoulders, biceps
Stand tall with feet hip-width apart and extend your arms out to the sides, parallel to the ground. Gently press your hands against a wall or doorframe and lean forward until you feel a stretch in your chest muscles. Hold for a few seconds before releasing the position. Do this 10-20 times.
If you are standing against a wall, try to keep your butt touching the wall throughout the exercise. It is very common for some people to feel activation in the upper back - this is not an issue.
9. Triceps lat stretch
This exercise activates: Triceps, lats, rear delts (shoulders)
Standing tall, place one arm on the trap muscle opposite to it. Your biceps and forearm should rest on your head. Further the stretch by grabbing your elbow with your other arm and pulling down slightly. By pulling your elbow towards you, you should also feel a good stretch in your lat muscle.
Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds and repeat for the other arm/side.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best warm-up exercise for tennis elbow?
If you are experiencing pain in your elbow, the best warm-up exercise to do is the wrist flexion and extension exercise. To do this exercise, you will need a resistance band or a heavy object like a book. Start by sitting with your arm out straight, palm facing up.
Wrap the band around your hand or place the weight in your hand. Slowly curl your hand towards your shoulder, making sure to keep your elbow straight. Hold for 2 seconds before slowly lowering it back to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.
How many warm-up exercises should I do?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this. We recommend that you do a minimum of 5 different exercises and spend at least 10 minutes warming up before playing pickleball. Make sure to use exercises that target different joints and muscle groups for a full-body workout.
Which muscle groups are most important to warm up?
The most important muscle groups to warm up for pickleball are the shoulders, hips, and wrists as well as the lower extremities. These muscles are used extensively in the game and must be warmed up properly before playing to minimize the risk of injury.