The best warm-up exercises for pickleball are dynamic stretching exercises, including jogging, side shuffles, lunges, and shoulder shrugs. Warm-ups help improve performance and prevent injury, keeping you playing pickleball for longer.
Why Do Warm-Up Exercises Before Playing Pickleball?
Pickleball is a full-body sport, so it is important to warm up your muscles before you start playing to avoid causing yourself an injury. There were over 19,000 pickleball-related injuries recorded in 2019. As new players start playing the sport, that number is only growing. The most common injuries in pickleball matches are sprains and fractures.
Proper warm-ups can help prevent these injuries and speed up recovery in the unfortunate event that an injury does happen.
7 Warm-Up Exercises Before Playing Pickleball
Dynamic stretching is the key to a successful warm-up. In dynamic warm-up, you move your joints and muscles actively using pickleball-specific motions for 10-12 repetitions, focusing on certain muscle groups. Warm-up exercises should be done before every play session.
Here are 7 of the most effective warm-up exercises for pickleball:
Move from one side to the other of the pickleball court, shuffling your feet. Pickleball has a lot of lateral movement, and side shuffles help acclimate your body to this movement in a gentle way before a game.
Pickleball gets your heart rate up quickly. You can ramp up more gradually by jogging around the pickleball court a few times rather than jumping into play straight off the bench.
Swing your arms horizontally (as if you were hugging yourself), circularly (as if you were making a true arm circle), and forwards (from front to back). Try not to swing too dramatically to avoid over-rotating. A slow and controlled movement is best for this stretch.
Stand with your feet together, stepping forward, and go as low as you’re comfortable. Don’t place your weight over your front knee. Hold for a moment, then step back to alternate legs.
- Side lunges target the glute medius (side butt) much more effectively. Simply move side to side rather than front to back. Your inner hamstrings will also be trained more as a result.
- Forward lunges are the more difficult movements and will drive more adaptation on the quads and core, but they are also less friendly to the joints.
Place your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart, and arms at your sides. Turn your palms towards one another. Your toes should line up with your knees. Straighten your neck and keep your chin up. Slowly inhale while raising your shoulders toward your ears. As you exhale, lower your shoulders back down.
Lie on the floor near a wall or door frame. With your left leg raised, put your heel against the wall. Straighten your left leg until you feel a stretch in the back of your left thigh. Hold for approximately 30 seconds. Repeat the process with the other leg.
Stand up straight with your feet flat and shoulder-width apart. Alternate between raising your knees to your chest. Experiment with the speed and range of motion of this warm-up.
Immediately after the game, it is tempting to walk off the court and move on with your day. However, forgetting to cool down can have detrimental consequences. Take the time to perform a quick cool-down stretch after your workout.
Walk slowly around the court after a tough game. If your heart rate is really high after a tough game, gradually bring it down to resting levels. You can achieve this by reducing the intensity of your cardio, which in this case would mean walking rather than jogging.
Stretch your arms across your chest while supporting yourself with the other hand. After 10-15 seconds, switch sides and hold for another 10-15 seconds.
Stretch your quadriceps by kicking your foot back up and grasping the toe of your shoe with your hand. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds, grabbing onto something with your other hand if you have difficulty balancing. Repeat the process with the other leg.
Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart and perform a side stretch. Put one hand on your hip and bring the other arm over your head to the other side of your body. For 10 seconds, pause here, then switch to the other side.
Standing with your feet together and bending at the waist, touch your toes if you are able. In the event that you are unable to do so, push your hands down your legs until you feel a good stretch and hang there for 10-15 seconds.
Take a deep breath while taking your arms out to the side, continuing upward until they meet above your head. Look up at your hands and extend your entire body. After exhaling, bring everything back to a neutral position. The process should be repeated five times.
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