Essential Pickleball Warm-Up Exercises

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Ace Your Game: Essential Pickleball Warm-Up Exercises

6 min read

Essential Pickleball Warm-Up Exercises

With the ever-growing popularity of pickleball increasing online and off, it’s important to remember that this is a sport. That means you need to do regular pickleball warm-up exercises if you don’t want to end up with a pulled muscle or strained ankle. 


As a leading resource of pickleball information and gear, we want to do our part to ensure you get the most out of this fantastic game while staying healthy. Let’s dive into some key warm-up exercises for pickleball that can help you on your way.


Benefits of Warming Up


A quality pickleball warm-up is designed to boost your physical ability during any intense activity. It lubricates all the internal joints, muscles, and nerve endings so you can better respond to your opponent and enjoy the game. Other benefits include:


  • Reducing injury:Prepares your muscles, tendons, and ligaments for physical activity, reducing the risk of strains, sprains, and other injuries.
  • Increasing flexibility:Increase blood flow to your muscles, making them more pliable and flexible, which enhances your range of motion and mobility.
  • Enhancing endurance:Helps to increase your heart rate and breathing, which boosts your endurance and stamina during the game.
  • Improving performance:Activate your nervous system and improve your reaction time, balance, and coordination.


Essential Pickleball Warm-Up Exercises


Let’s begin with some of the essential pickleball warm-up drills you want to complete on the sideline before jumping into the game. Even if this is a friendly back-and-forth between neighbors, you still want to make sure your major muscle groups are well-targeted and prepared to improve your overall playing performance. Start with:


Cardiovascular Warm-Up Exercises

These types of warm-up exercises before pickleball are designed to increase your heart rate and breathing. This is an excellent way to prep your body for the physical activity you are about to enjoy so you can spend more time swapping funny jokes with your opponent and less time trying to catch your breath between volleys. They include:


  • Jumping jacks:Stand with your feet together, then jump and spread your legs while raising your arms overhead. Jump again and return to the starting position. Repeat for 30-60 seconds.
  • Jogging in place:Stand in place and jog by lifting your knees up toward your chest. Continue for 30-60 seconds.
  • High knees:Stand in place and lift your knees up as high as possible while pumping your arms. Continue for 30-60 seconds.
  • Butt kicks:Stand in place and kick your heels back towards your glutes while pumping your arms. Continue for 30-60 seconds.
  • Skips:Skip in place by hopping on one foot, then the other. Continue for 30-60 seconds.


Dynamic Stretching Exercises

You always want to include pickleball warm-up stretches because it is way too easy to pull a muscle when you have to be quick on your feet. The goal is to improve your potential range of motion, so a small twitch in your ankle or backhand serve doesn’t result in a long afternoon sitting with an ice pack to keep you company while you heal. They include:


  • Arm circles:Stand with your arms out to the sides, then make circular motions with your arms, moving them forward and backward. Repeat for 10-20 repetitions.
  • Leg swings:Stand with your hands on your hips, then swing one leg forward and backward, keeping it straight. Switch legs and repeat for 10-20 repetitions.
  • Hip circles:Stand with your hands on your hips, then make circular motions with your hips, moving them clockwise and counterclockwise. Repeat for 10-20 repetitions.
  • Torso twists:Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and twist your torso to one side, then the other. Repeat for 10-20 repetitions.
  • Walking lunges:Take a significant step forward with one leg, then lower your body until your knee is bent at a 90-degree angle. Push back up and step forward with the other leg. Repeat for 10-20 repetitions.


Sports-Specific Warm-Up Exercises

Now that we’ve gone over the more general warm-up for pickleball exercises, let’s look at some of the specific pre-pickleball warm-ups specific to the actual sport. You can do this by yourself or with a partner as a great way to break the ice before the game, so you are both well-protected and can judge your match based on skills and not on potential body strain.


  • Shadow swings: Stand facing a wall or net, then practice your forehand and backhand swings without hitting a ball. Focus on your technique and footwork. Repeat for 10-20 repetitions.
  • Drop and hit: Have a partner drop the ball in front of you, then hit it back to them. This exercise helps to improve your reaction time and hand-eye coordination. Repeat for 10-20 repetitions.
  • Forehand and backhand drills: Practice hitting forehand and backhand shots to a partner, alternating sides. Focus on your footwork, technique, and consistency. Repeat for 10-20 repetitions.
  • Serve and return practice: Practice serving and returning shots to a partner. Focus on your form, aim, and placement. Repeat for 10-20 repetitions.
  • Mini-games: Play short games with a partner or a small group to warm up and practice your skills. For example, you could play "King of the Court," "Three-on-Three," or "Target Practice."


We especially like the fun warm-up games for pickleball. They are also great ways to get kiddos acquainted with the overall game before committing them to longer volleys. You can find YouTube videos of practically all these pickleball athletic warm-ups and mini-games if you are a more visual learner like most of our experts. 


Best Pickleball Warm-Up Drill


To make things easier, we’ve built a sample of the best warm-up exercises for pickleball routine we would do before playing a longer game. The entire routine takes anywhere from 10-15 minutes to complete, and you can shorten it down if you want a 5-minute pickleball warm-up before a pickup game while traveling. 


  • Cardiovascular warm-up exercises (2-3 minutes total, 30 seconds per pickleball warm-up exercise)
    • Jumping Jacks
    • Jogging in Place
    • High Knees
    • Butt Kicks
    • Skipping
  • Dynamic stretching exercises (3-4 minutes total, 10 reps each)
    • Arm Circles
    • Leg Swings
    • Hip Circles
    • Torso Twists
    • Walking Lunges
  • Sports-specific warm-up exercises (5-8 minutes, 10 reps each, besides mini-games)
    • Shadow Swings
    • Drop & Hit
    • Forehand/Backhand drills
    • Serve & Return
    • 1-2 Mini Games


This sample of a dynamic warm-up for pickleball should give you all the resources you need to boost your gameplay without risking unnecessary injuries. Even if you have an older medical issue, working through this routine will help improve your overall physical capabilities. 


Additional Tips for Effective Pickleball Singles Warm-Ups


Keep in mind that there is more to just moving your body to ensure you are safe and having a great time on the pickleball court. Learning how to warm up for pickleball is more than bouncing around before a game. It is also about preparing your space for what is about to happen. Here are some tips to help you on the way: 


  • Hydration: Drink plenty of water before and during your warm-up to stay hydrated and energized.
  • Clothing and footwear: Wear comfortable, breathable clothing and appropriate shoes for pickleball to ensure maximum comfort and mobility.
  • Environment: Warm up in a safe, well-lit, and comfortable environment free from hazards and distractions.
  • Duration and frequency of warm-ups: Aim to warm up for at least 10-15 minutes before each pickleball game or practice. Consider doing additional warm-up exercises if you feel particularly tight or sore.


Wrapping It Up


Finding the best pickleball warm-up exercises begins and ends with your unique needs. Everyone will have different requirements based on their body types, previous health history, and comfort with practice. Do what is best for your body first, but use this article as a decent guideline for where to get started. 


Hopefully, this will provide you with everything you need to go from amateur pickleball player to seasoned veteran in no time. Be sure to share this pickleball warm-up exercise routine with your friends and opponents as well. The more you can help improve their health, the longer you’ll have a fantastic partner to play one of the best games around. Good luck, and remember to have fun!