Last week, we discussed what an incredible activity Pickleball is for your overall health. It’s also important to recognize though that although pickleball is such a fun activity, it’s still important to warmup before you play.

The important concept is that the body does not respond very well going from inactivity to exercise. The cardio-vascular, respiratory, musculo-skeletal, and neurological and metabolic energy pathways need to be gradually stimulated in order to perform at an optimal level.

You need to lubricate your joints, warm your muscle and connective tissue and slowly wake up your breathing and cardio systems. Muscles that are warm have a much better ability to extract and utilize oxygen to produce energy. As muscles warm up, the enzyme activity level is increased. This means that fats and sugars are broken down more rapidly, and more energy will be produced. This will of course, enhance your performance. It’s important to include a 6-12 minute low intensity warm-up before you play. Exercisers in their later years may need an even more extensive warm-up of approximately 15 minutes because our connective tissue is more rigid and tight.

So, before you start your play, spend a few minutes or more just walking to slowly increase your core temperature and get your body moving. Then, a sport-specific warmup should generally involve the same movements involved in the sport but at a much lower intensity.

Try some of these movements before your next pickleball game

Paddle Swings

Place your paddle in one hand and swing your arm forward and backwards.

Do 10x and then repeat on the other arm.

Paddle Circles

Place your paddle in one hand and make 10 big circles going one way and then 10 circles going the other way to warmup your shoulders.

Repeat with the opposite arm.

Paddle Rotations

Stand with your feet hip width apart.

Place your paddle in one hand and then reach your paddle to the side of your body and then to the opposite side of your body sweeping side to side to warmup your torso to a twisting action.

Do 10x and then repeat with the paddle in the other arm.

Paddle Reach and Side Bend

Stand with your feet hip width apart.

Place your paddle in one hand and then reach your paddle overhead and then reach to the opposite side of your body into a side bend.

Repeat 10x on each side. 

Leg Swings

To warmup your hips and thighs, stand on one leg and swing the opposite leg forward and backward.

Repeat 10x and then continue on the other leg.

Now, swing the leg side to side in a pendulum action 10x each side.

Now stand on one leg while you circle your thigh through your hip socket going one direction 5x and then reverse the circle for 5x.

Complete on the opposite leg. 

Paddle Lunges

Start by standing tall with your paddle in one hand arm extended overhead.

Lunge forward as low as it feels comfortable while reaching your paddle forward then return to the starting position with paddle reaching overhead.

Then lunge forward on a diagonal with the paddle reaching in the same direction and then back to the starting position.

Then lunge laterally to the side with the paddle reaching to the side and back to the starting position.

Repeat on the other leg. Do 5x each side through each direction.

While performing your lunges, keep your knee and toes pointed in the same direction and your front knee stacked over your front foot. 

Gentle Jog/Shuffle

Start on the back corner of the pickleball court.

Jog forward to the net.

Now shuffle laterally across the net.

Now back peddle to the back of the court.

Shuffle laterally back to where you started. Repeat 5x going one direction.

Take a break and then repeat 5x going the opposite direction.

Once you’re ready to play, do some cooperative play with your partner to wakeup your reflexes before you begin your competition. You’re now ready to play your best game!

It’s important to note that deep stretching should not happen prior to a workout because your muscle and connective tissue aren’t warm enough yet. Deep stretching should happen post game after your cool down but a warmup should be dynamic and in motion.

Next week, we’ll review exercises you can do to reduce your risk for injury and improve your performance on the pickleball court.

Model: Stephanie Lynn, owner of Sweet Spot Skirts, and local pickleball player/coach.

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at

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