Tips to Prevent Injuries and Safely Enjoy a Rapidly Growing Sport
When Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum invented pickleball in 1965, their goal was to create a game their families could enjoy playing together. It’s unlikely they anticipated how much other families would enjoy the game and how quickly the game would grow in popularity.
Pickleball has been named the fastest-growing sport in America three years in a row. This rapid growth in popularity has been accompanied by a rise in injuries. Based on a study from 2010-2019 in the United States, there were 33,817 pickleball injury-related cases evaluated in emergency rooms.  As a result, both competitive and recreational players should take steps to prevent injuries.
Some common injuries players should be aware of include strains, sprains, fractures, contusions and abrasions. Often, the cause is skipping a warm-up, using the wrong gear when playing or improper form. As the old saying goes, half an ounce of prevention is worth an ounce of cure.
Pickleball Injury Prevention Tips
As a sports medicine physician, I would advise anyone interested in playing pickleball to speak with their primary care physicians, cardiologists or other specialists such as a sports medicine physician, to ensure you are healthy enough to play as much pickleball as you desire. Once you have their go-ahead, have a general idea of how to play the game before you step on a court – knowledge is a great way to prevent an injury!
Here are some additional tips to keep you playing as long as you want:
- Warm up for about 5-10 minutes before playing. I recommend a dynamic warm-up such as walking, jogging, jumping jacks or high knees.
- After warming up, gently stretching major muscle groups can also be helpful.
- Wear supportive shoes designed for court sports to avoid slipping or twisting your ankles.
- When playing outdoors, wear sunscreen and weather-appropriate clothing that allows your skin to breathe.
- Listen to your body and stop playing if you feel any pain or discomfort.
- Cool down when you call it quits for the day. In addition to recovering with proper nutrition and hydration, walking and stretching are great ways to recover and prevent injuries following pickleball.
Lastly, a 2020 study of 1,487 pickleball players identified a growing prevalence of exercise addiction to the popular game. It is therefore important for players to know their limitations and not overexert themselves.
It’s easy to see why pickleball is exploding in popularity. It can be played by all ages and requires minimal equipment. Plus, it’s fun! With a little extra care, you can avoid aches and pains while playing the game you love. As long as you put in the work off the court to prevent injuries, you should enjoy a long and healthy pickleball career.
 Weiss, H. e. (2021). Non-fatal senior pickleball and tennis-related injuries treated in United States Emergency Departments, 2010-2019. Injury Epidemiology, 1-15.