Looking to improve your pickleball game? This list of best pickleball exercises for seniors helps you stay competitive.
Pickleball is a hit among older adults, but did you know it comes with its own set of injuries? As popular and accessible as this sport is, pickleball-related injuries like ankle sprains or wrist fractures can happen – unless you are prepared.
This blog post guides you through some effective exercises designed to enhance your strength and agility while minimizing injury.
Ready to play safer and stronger during your next pickleball game? Then keep reading!
Benefits of Pickleball for Seniors
Pickleball is fun, healthy, and well-suited for older adults. According to the 2022 Sports & Fitness Industry report, more than half of core players—those who play eight or more times a year—are 55 or older, and almost a third are 65-plus.
Why? It is a mildly impactful sport that helps you stay fit and improve balance, strength, and agility.
Not only are all of these benefits good for your muscle and cardiovascular health, but they also help your body prevent injuries along the way. They also improve your pickleball game as well as your tennis game.
Still, warmups are important to improve all of these benefits. Here are ways to prepare your body for your next game.
Essential Warm-Up Exercises for Pickleball
To prepare your body for pickleball, start with essential warm-up exercises.
Forward and Backward Run
Running forward and backward is a great way to warm up for pickleball. This easy exercise helps you move faster in the game. Here are steps for doing it right:
Counter Top Walks
This activity helps to build wrist and upper body strength for faster and stronger ball returns. Here is how to do it:
- Stand near a countertop.
- Place both hands on the counter.
- Walk your fingers across the top.
- Keep doing this back and forth.
- Do this for one minute.
Side steps or hops add power to your legs, keep your bones healthy, and lessen the chance of hurting your ankle while playing pickleball. Your body will get more stable and quick on the pickleball court while making your body work together.
You have to do this move slowly and steadily for it to work best.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Engage your core muscles.
- Take a lateral hop to the right, landing softly on your right foot.
- Bring your left foot together with your right foot on the landing.
- Repeat the hop to the left, landing on your left foot first.
- Continue alternating side hops, moving laterally across the court.
- Focus on a soft landing, bending your knees to absorb impact.
- Keep your upper body steady and resistant to rotation. Don’t twist.
- Advance to hopping further distances between feet as you build power.
- Try 2-3 sets of 8-10 hops per side. Rest briefly between sets.
- Start slow and low impact, then increase height and speed of hops as you get stronger.
- Maintain proper form and alignment throughout – don’t compromise technique as you go faster.
Key Strength Training Exercises for Pickleball
Squats, push-ups, and planks are essential for building strength and improving your game. Learn how to do these exercises correctly for maximum benefit. Read on to learn more about each.
Squats are great because they strengthen your legs and glutes. They improve stability and balance, which is important for pickleball. Squats also help you have more power and agility on the court. By doing squats, you can prevent injuries and stay fit.
Any method of squats will do.
Push-ups are an important exercise for pickleball because they prevent injuries and strengthen your shoulders and shoulder blades, in turn, improving stability and range of motion. These are all benefits for faster and stronger return shots. Standard push-ups will work fine for this exercise.
They also help with posture and maintain overhead mobility. Another variation called scapula push-ups specifically targets the shoulder muscles. It’s important to have proper shoulder strength to avoid tears and increase the strength of overhead shots.
Planks are a great exercise to improve core strength, which is important for stability and balance on the court. Planks target different muscles like your abs, back, arms, and shoulders. You can modify planks to match your fitness level.
One easy way to do planks is to do a modified bird walk.
Flexibility Exercises for Senior Pickleball Players
Improve your range of motion and prevent injuries with these flexibility exercises specifically designed for senior pickleball players.
To improve your flexibility and prevent injuries while playing pickleball, it’s important to include neck stretches in your warm-up routine. These stretches can prepare your neck muscles for the movements involved in pickleball and help reduce tension in your upper back. They also alleviate neck pain or stiffness that can come after playing.
Make sure to do neck stretches slowly and gently to avoid strain or injury.
Side stretches improve flexibility, prevent injuries, help with serving and reaching balls, and help you avoid getting hit. Side stretches also stimulate bone cells and improve bone health, leg power, balance, stability, and agility. They strengthen wrists and forearms, which improves shot control and grip strength. Additionally, side stretches improve hip strength, balance, power, shoulder strength, stability, and range of motion.
To keep your hips flexible and reduce the risk of injuries, try these hip stretches as part of your regular routine:
Cool Down Exercises for Pickleball
Cooling down after pickleball is important to help your body recover and prevent injury. Here are some simple and effective cooldown exercises:
- Deep Breathing: Take slow, deep breaths to help relax your muscles and lower your heart rate.
- Dynamic Stretching: Perform gentle stretches that target the muscles used in pickleball, such as shoulder circles, arm swings, and leg swings.
- Static Stretching: Hold static stretches for 15-30 seconds to improve flexibility and reduce muscle soreness. Focus on stretching your shoulders, hamstrings, quads, and calves.
- Shoulder Rolls: Roll your shoulders forward and backward to relieve tension in the upper back and shoulders.
- Hamstring Stretch: Sit on the edge of a chair and extend one leg out in front of you while keeping your heel on the ground. Lean forward slightly until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh.
- Calf Stretch: Stand facing a wall with one foot forward and one foot back. Keep both heels on the ground and lean towards the wall until you feel a stretch in your calf muscles.
Maximize Your Performance With Pickleball Exercises
By following the exercise tips before and after each game, you’ll improve your range of motion, agility, and strength to keep your opponent on their toes. Pickleball is an excellent way to enjoy the outdoors, have fun with friends, and fit in healthy exercise along the way. The above tips help you enjoy your time on the court to the fullest.
What are some effective pickleball exercises for seniors?
Some effective pickleball exercises include standing hip abduction, towel twists, scapula push-ups, and arm reach and rows.
What role do modified bird dogs, walking lunges, and step-out-and-in calf raises play when warming up before a game of Pickleball?
Exercises like the modified bird dog or walking lunges are often encouraged to help reduce slips, trips, and falls by improving balance before engaging in fast foot movements.