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Lets talk about Pickleball

Written by Emily Weikle PT, DPT
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Emily Dudzik

As a Physical Therapist and a relatively new pickleball enthusiast, I am often asked by patients to explain this game with the funny name. Pickleball is a sport that combines aspects of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. It is played indoors or outdoors on a court slightly smaller than the size of a tennis court, using a paddle and a wiffle type ball.  Pickleball can be played as singles or doubles and is a sport that is enjoyed by individuals of all ages and skill levels.

I started playing tennis at 5 years old and played competitively through college. It wasn’t until this year that I picked up a pickleball paddle, all thanks to my mom. I met her at Bella Vista Church one evening after work this past winter and she introduced me to some of her “pickleball friends”, as we rotated on and off the court playing different opponents. After playing just once, I could see how addicting pickleball could be, not only the game itself, but also because of the social aspect of the sport.

37400338 10156409401513076 1226535856785850368 oPickleball is one of the fastest growing sports around the nation and West Michigan has many wonderful individuals who are enthusiastic ambassadors of the sport. One element of the game I have really enjoyed has been reconnecting and playing with former tennis colleagues. I had the opportunity to play mixed doubles in my first pickleball tournament in June (Meijer State Games of Michigan) with another former collegiate tennis player and long-time friend.  If you are a tennis player that is trying out pickleball for the first time, be aware that although there are similarities between the sports, the strategy and technique greatly differ between the two. A wonderful aspect about pickleball is that individuals of all ages can participate in this fun, social activity and enjoy the competition.

In most cases when players head out to the courts to practice or play a match, the last thing on their mind is doing a warm up before picking up their paddle. An observation I made during the summer tournaments was the limited amount of players I saw warming up prior to taking the court. We are all guilty of this and with the uncertainty of when you will be playing, it can be tricky to time a warm-up correctly.

An example of a good 5-10 minute off court dynamic warm up would be: a light jog, side shuffle, carioca, toe walk, heel walk, walking lunges, straight leg kicks, leg cradles, quad pulls, knees to chest, arm circles, wrist and forearm stretches. Now you are ready to begin your on-court warm up. Performing a warm up is crucial in any sport in order to enhance performance, optimize movement and decrease your risk for injury during competition. Also, don’t forget to cool down and stretch after you play.

If you have not yet tried pickleball, grab a paddle, head out to the courts and enjoy! Just remember to warm up properly, wear appropriate footwear and have fun!

For more information on a personalized injury risk/biomechanical assessment, please contact us at CPR. Knowing what areas to focus on off the court can help prevent injuries and keep enhancing your overall experience of the game.

If you are interested in information regarding pickleball courts/organized play in the Grand Rapids area, please visit the following website:

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