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Ultimate Pickleball Workout Plan

pickleball train Aug 29, 2023
Ultimate Pickleball Workout | Arangio

If you're searching for a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong into a heart-pounding, adrenaline-pumping experience, look no further than the ever-popular pickleball.

It was invented by someone who couldn't decide between playing tennis or ping pong, so they just flipped a coin.

This sport has taken the fitness world by storm, drawing players of all ages onto the court for a game that's as challenging as it is enjoyable.

But before you grab your paddle and jump onto the court, it's crucial to understand the importance of a well-rounded workout plan that not only enhances your gameplay but also helps prevent common pickleball injuries.

The Pickleball Phenomenon

In recent years, pickleball has skyrocketed in popularity, becoming the go-to sport for fitness enthusiasts seeking a dynamic and engaging workout. You know you're addicted to pickleball when your dreams start having a net and a baseline. Originating in the 1960s, this sport has seen a resurgence like no other, attracting players across generations due to its fast-paced nature and accessibility.

Combining elements of strategy, coordination, and cardiovascular fitness, pickleball is not only a fun social activity but also a fun way to stay active.

The High Impact of Common Injuries

Pickleball, like any sport, comes with its fair share of risks. With the surge in the game's popularity, a 2021 study (1) reveals a corresponding uptick in pickleball-related injuries. Among the most frequently reported issues are sprains and strains. Interestingly, the study noted that a staggering 85 percent of these injuries occurred among players aged 60 and above. Good news is that you can do resistance training to protect yourself from injury.

In a recent study (2), progressive resistance training demonstrated its ability to strengthen muscles, tendons, and joints. If you are over the age of 40, you can lift weights to lower the chance of sports-related injuries. The repetitive motions, quick pivots, and sudden accelerations involved in pickleball can lead to common injuries that can put a damper on your game and your fitness journey. Some of the most frequent injuries include:

  • Rotator Cuff Strain: The overhead movements required for serving and smashing can place strain on your shoulder's rotator cuff muscles, leading to discomfort and pain.
  • Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis): The repeated swinging motion of the paddle can strain the tendons in your forearm, leading to inflammation and pain on the outer part of your elbow.
  • Ankle Sprains: The quick changes in direction and lateral movements can put your ankles at risk for sprains, especially if you're not wearing proper footwear or haven't warmed up adequately.
  • Knee Injuries: Some say pickleball is just an elaborate ploy to sell more knee braces.The constant bending, lunging, and sudden stops during pickleball can lead to knee injuries, such as sprains or meniscus tears.
  • Lower Back Strain: Poor posture and improper body mechanics can lead to strain on your lower back, resulting in discomfort or even more serious injuries.

The Ultimate Pickleball Workout Plan

To fully enjoy the exhilarating game of pickleball and reduce the risk of these common injuries, incorporate a well-structured workout plan. Not only will this plan enhance your performance on the court, but it will also contribute to your overall health and fitness. Let's dive into the ultimate pickleball workout plan that will keep you fit, agile, and ready to dominate the court.

1. Dynamic Warmup 

Before engaging in any physical activity, it's crucial to prepare your muscles and joints for the demands of the game. Start with light cardio, such as brisk walking or jogging, for about 5 minutes. Follow this with dynamic stretches that target your shoulders, wrists, hips, and ankles. Arm circles, leg swings, and wrist rotations are excellent choices to get your body ready for action.

2. Cardiovascular Conditioning

Pickleball requires constant movement and quick bursts of energy. To build your cardiovascular endurance, engage in activities like running, cycling, or jumping rope. Aim for a moderate to high intensity, maintaining your heart rate within your target range for 20 minutes. This will not only improve your stamina on the court but also enhance your overall fitness level.

3. Strength Training

Building strength is essential for maintaining proper form and preventing injuries during pickleball. Incorporate a mix of resistance-training movements to target key muscle groups:

  • Dumbbell Goblet Squat: Enhance leg strength and stability.
  • Dumbbell Lunge: Enhance lower body strength and coordination.
  • Dumbbell Incline Chest Press: Strengthen your chest, shoulders, and triceps.
  • Dumbbell One-Arm Lat Row: Strengthen your back and improve posture.
  • Lat Pullup with Neutral Grip: Improve your vertical-pulling strength while minimizing stress on your shoulders and elbows. Side benefit is a stronger grip.
  • Dumbbell Standing Shoulder Press: Create stronger shoulders. Perform from a seated position, with back support, if you have a history of lower-back issues.
  • Prone Core Plank: Improve core stability, crucial for balance on the court.

Perform three sets of each exercise with 12-15 repetitions, gradually increasing the resistance as you progress.

4. Flexibility and Mobility Work

Maintaining flexibility is essential to prevent injuries, especially those related to strained muscles or joints. Incorporate static stretches that target your shoulders, hips, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times on each side. Additionally, consider incorporating yoga or Pilates into your routine to improve overall flexibility and balance.

5. Pickleball-Specific Drills

To truly excel on the pickleball court, you need to practice pickleball-specific drills that mimic the movements and gameplay. These drills can include:

  • Forehand and Backhand Volleys: Practice hitting the ball over the net using both sides of your paddle.
  • Serving Practice: Work on your serves to ensure accuracy and consistency.
  • Footwork Drills: Focus on quick changes in direction, lateral movements, and pivots.
  • Reaction Time Exercises: Use a partner or a ball machine to improve your reaction time and agility.

Allocate about 20 minutes to these drills, ensuring a mix of skill development and fitness enhancement. Pickleball strategy: Hit the ball where your opponent least expects it – like their face.

6. Recovery

After an intense workout, it's important to allow your body to cool down gradually. Perform static stretches for major muscle groups, holding each stretch for 20-30 seconds. Incorporate deep breathing and mindfulness exercises to promote relaxation and aid in recovery.

7. Mindful Nutrition and Hydration

No workout plan is complete without considering your nutritional needs. Fuel your body with a balanced diet rich in lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Hydration is also key, so drink water before, during, and after your workouts to stay properly hydrated.

Pickle is undoubtedly a fantastic way to stay active, engage in friendly competition, and have a blast with friends and family. However, as with any physical activity, it's essential to approach it with caution and respect for your body. By following the ultimate pickleball workout plan outlined above, you'll not only enhance your gameplay but also minimize the risk of common injuries, allowing you to fully enjoy the game while maintaining your overall fitness.

Remember, consistency is key. Stay dedicated, and watch as your performance on the court reaches new heights. Whether you're a seasoned player or just getting started, this comprehensive plan will set you on the path to becoming a true pickleball champion. 

To your success,

Coach Joe


Pickleball, a fusion of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, has gained immense popularity for its engaging and heart-pounding gameplay. It's like tennis for people who thought the net was too high and the court was too big. As the sport's popularity rises, so do pickleball-related injuries, especially sprains and strains, with a significant proportion occurring among players aged 60 and above. To counter these risks, a well-structured workout plan should include a dynamic warmup, cardiovascular conditioning, strength training, flexibility work, and pickleball-specific drills. This comprehensive approach not only boosts on-court performance but also mitigates common injuries, making pickleball a dynamic and enjoyable fitness endeavor for all ages. 


  1. Weiss, H., Dougherty, J. & DiMaggio, C. Non-fatal senior pickleball and tennis-related injuries treated in United States emergency departments, 2010–2019. Inj. Epidemiol. 8, 34 (2021).
  2. Lauersen JB, Andersen TE, Andersen LB. Strength training as superior, dose-dependent and safe prevention of acute and overuse sports injuries: a systematic review, qualitative analysis and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2018 Dec;52(24):1557-1563.



Joseph Arangio helps 40+ men and women lose weight, gain strength, and slow aging. He's delivered over 100,000 transformation programs to satisfied clients around the globe. If you want to increase longevity with the best online age-management program, or you want to visit the best age-management program in the Lehigh Valley, you can take a free 14-day trial.

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