Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in America, with over 4 million players of all ages participating today. It's a great way to exercise, and it's also less physically demanding than tennis — making it an excellent sport for anyone, no matter how old they are. Pickleball players can expect to improve their agility, balance, muscle endurance and hand-eye coordination every time they step out onto the court.
As with any sport, warming up before stepping out there is essential. Strength training, balance, flexibility and speed are exercises to improve your game and prepare your body for this enjoyable sport. Learn ways to improve your pickleball performance and tips for getting in shape for your next match.
5 Exercises to Improve Your Pickleball Game
When you play pickleball, you work on your body while having fun and connecting with friends and teammates. So whether you're picking up the paddle for the first time, looking for a new workout or simply want to sharpen your skills, add these five exercises for pickle ballers to your routine:
1. Warm-up Drills
You'll hear it anywhere — warming up before exercising is vital. Since pickleball requires a wide range of motions, preparing dynamic warm-up exercises before each match is essential. The critical areas you'll want to work on include the hips, shoulders, waist and knees. A 10-minute warm-up should be enough to increase your heart rate and muscle temperature.
Try any of the following warm-up exercises before your pickleball match:
- Marches: To prepare your knees, arms and hips, march on the spot for 30 seconds while keeping your knees high and swinging your arms.
- Hip rotation: Rotate your hips by standing still, raising your right knee until your foot is parallel to the floor and moving it out to the side and back. Repeat on the other leg.
- Arm swings: Stand with your arms stretched horizontally. Cross them at the front and back as far from each other as possible, repeating five times.
- Arm circles: Stand straight and stretch your arms out to the sides of your body. Rotate your arms clockwise and counter-clockwise to create circles. Repeat five times.
2. Strength Exercises
While pickleball is generally less physically intensive than tennis and other similar sports, you'll work out your muscles and feel the effects if you haven't done any strength exercises in a while. You'll mostly use your forearms, biceps and triceps, as well as hamstrings and quads. The following activities will help you prevent soreness after a long match of pickleball and also improve your muscular endurance:
- Squats: To begin, push your hips backward while keeping your weight on your heels and outside of your feet. Next, turn your feet outward and squat down, keeping your thighs parallel with the floor. Push the floor away from you while keeping your back flat on the way up. Use a kettlebell to increase the effects of this exercise.
- Lunges: Lunge across the length of two pickleball courts while alternating your legs. Bring your hands together and rotate your body to each side as you reach the ground. Repeat four times.
- Planks: Add planks into your weekly workout to strengthen your abdominal and core muscles. First, lay face down with your forearms and toes on the floor. Keep your elbows directly under your shoulders and your torso straight without sagging or bending. Look at the floor, and hold this position for 10 seconds before releasing back to the floor. Try to work up to 30, 45 or 60 seconds over time.
3. Balance Exercises
To prevent falls and improve your stability, try out the following balance exercises:
- Yoga poses: Yoga is the ideal activity to increase your strength, mobility and flexibility, translating perfectly for pickleball! A few excellent yoga poses include the tree, any of the five warrior poses, high lunge and chair pose.
- Tightrope: A simple balancing exercise, the tightrope involves putting your heel in front of your toe like walking a tightrope.
- Weight shifts: Stand with your feet directly below your hips and distribute your weight equally on both legs. Shift your weight to one side and lift your opposite foot. Hold the position for 30 seconds before repeating on your other side.
4. Flexibility Exercises
To improve your flexibility and prevent injuries out on the pickleball court, try some total body stretches with resistance bands after warming up your muscles:
- Hamstring stretch: Lay down and pull your hamstring toward your head by looping your resistance band around your right foot while keeping your left leg bent on the floor. Repeat with your other leg and hold each pose for 15-30 seconds.
- Lying hip stretch: Lay on the floor and loop your band around your right foot while grabbing onto the band with the opposite hand. Straighten your left leg on the floor and slowly lower your right leg across your body as low to the floor as you can. Hold this pose and repeat it on the opposite side.
- Upper back stretch: Sit on the floor with your legs straight and your band looped around both feet. Cross the band and grab onto each side with your hands close to your feet. Slowly curl your back and stretch it towards the back of the room while creating tension with your bands. Spread your shoulder blades open while aiming with your chest toward your feet.
5. Speed Exercises
Agility training can significantly improve your pickleball performance by increasing your mobility and stamina while working out your leg muscles. The following exercises are ideal for pickleball. Use neon-colored field cones to mark your perimeter or to create an agility course:
- Forward run: While pickleball doesn't require constant running, a forward run exercise can help you with quick shots and serves. To prepare for your game, try running the length of two pickleball courts twice.
- Backward run: A backward run will help you feel more comfortable stepping back while preventing injuries from falling backward. To begin, bend your knees in a partial squat. Next, take a few large steps backward as if the ball is coming toward you and take a pretend swing.
- Side steps: Side steps and jumps can help strengthen your bones, increase your agility and prevent injuries. To start, stand upright with your feet close to each other. Lift your right foot slightly off the floor and push off from your left foot to step or jump to the right before landing on your right foot. Repeat the exercise by moving to the left.
Step up Your Pickleball Game With Rhino Pickleball Equipment
Pickleball can be much more than just a fun game between friends. It's a full-body workout that requires proper preparation and strength training. Incorporate these exercises into your routine and see the difference they make in your game.
Rhino Pickleball has everything you need to help you prepare for your next match and improve your performance. To find the right pickleball accessories and equipment for your needs, browse our online store today!