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Pickleball is the fastest growing sport and with good reason- it’s easily accessible and doesn’t have a steep learning curve. So many people love pickleball that there are even Pickleball Bars. No really- it’s called The Pickle Bar in Summerville! Should the next Made 2 Move happy hour be at The Pickle Bar…I think YES!

As fun as pickleball is, injury rates for this sport are on the rise too, with there being an increase in pickleball related ER visits from 2013-2017. And this is just the documented ER visits that resulted from pickleball, not to include the nagging shoulder someone might feel after playing or the back pain you don’t feel like seeing a doctor for. This injury increase could simply be due to the fact that more people are playing, so of course the injury rates rise. Regardless of the reason for the rise, injury risk reduction, specific to pickleball, is a topic that warrants our attention here at Made 2 Move.

Made 2 Move is here to keep you on the court- so what can you do to optimize your play and reduce the risk of injury?

Common injuries

Pickleball players tend to be older, as NY Times reports, “the average age is 38, but half of all “core” players — meaning devotees — are 55 and above, according to USA Pickleball, which calls itself the sport’s governing body.” This is awesome! We love sports that our Made 2 Move athletes can play at any age! But as we age, our balance, strength, and power all start to decline.

At Made 2 Move, we are huge fans of following the “use it or lose it” principle. As adults, it may be true that strength, power, and balance tend to decrease, but if we continue to train them, we can sustain them- making us a more competitive pickleball player!

Pickleball, like any sport, comes with the risk of injury. Pickleball injuries range from back pain to shoulder pain to sprains, fractures, and muscle strains. Oh and move over tennis! It is no longer tennis elbow, it’s pickleball elbow. In all seriousness though, are these injuries just inevitable? Or is there something we can to do ameliorate our risk of these? We’re going to address 2 easy and applicable measures you can take to reduce the risk of injury: the “in-betweens” and warm-ups.

The “In-Betweens”

When our Made 2 Move PTs talk about the “in betweens”, we are wondering: what are you doing in between your pickleball games- this applies to both your training sessions and overall recovery. We are going to hone in on the training sessions.

Dr. Noah Sariban, also known as The Pickleball Doctor stresses an ordered approach to injury prevention. Mobility and flexbility should be optimized. Then (or simultaneously) strength and conditioning work should be implemented. Lastly, honing in on power, agility, and sport specific training to optimize your game. Regarding sport specific training he writes, “Specificity of training is what it's all about: this means that in order to excel in your sport, you need to train in ways that will be productive to your sport.”

Strength training should include compound movements that work your frontside, backside, and single legs. Rotational work should also be included.

A pickleball player doesn’t need to work on training their a 1 rep max back squat (unless of course, they want to). Pickleball players do need to be able to move laterally, start and stop quickly, and be overall agile. Thus, sports specificity for a pickleball player would look like lateral drills, jumps, shuffles, etc. Check out The Pickleball Doc’s favorite drills.

The importance of warmups

Your warmups can look like a scaled back version of the agility, hops, and other movements you do during your “in betweens” at the gym.

Pickleball requires quick starts and stops. Mimic this in your warmup. Sprint to the net and backpedal back. Single leg hop 20x on each leg forwards and sideways over the line. Do arm circles with your racquet.

Warm up with some lateral lunges, hops, shuffles, etc. The goal is to bring up your body temperature and perform the motions you are about to in the game, just at a lower intensity.

How can Made 2 Move help your pickleball game?

Here at Made 2 Move, our PTs interested in more than just helping you rehab from your injury. While that is often a primary focus of ours, we also believe in taking a proactive approach to injury. Are you a pickleball player looking to optimize your game and reduce your risk of injury on the court? Do you want to hit your “in betweens” at the gym but are unsure about how to structure your training sessions? We are here to help! Our PTs have extensive experience in programming for athletes and will individualize your training to your goals- heck we may even have you bring your pickleball gear into the gym. Let’s play! Reach out to to set up an initial consultation.


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