As many people know, pickleball has become one of the fastest-growing sports. Although many assume it’s mainly for an older demographic, it’s catching on with people of all ages.
As a pickleball player and lover of the sport myself, I have noticed more people desiring to improve their game and fitness level as it increases in popularity. Being a personal trainer has dramatically benefitted my game because I have been able to combine my knowledge of fitness and pickleball.
When I’m approached about specific training for pickleball, I start by encouraging people to work on their core strength. This not only enhances performance but also prevents injury.
Like in most racket sports, pickleball requires rotation of the torso to help with striking. Basically, if a person is moving, their core is working, whether they are aware of it. Although this movement is less extreme than in tennis, injury can occur easily if the core isn’t engaged and active. One of the ways people experience injury is with low back pain. Because the core muscles are crucial in maintaining stability within the entire body, when stability is lost, form is compromised, causing the wrong muscles to compensate. This is often when injury occurs. If there’s one thing pickleball players want to avoid, it’s an injury that prevents them from playing!
Like anything in life, strengthening muscles effectively without knowing how they work is nearly impossible. As a personal trainer, I have noticed that people understand the core to be the “six-pack” (also known as the rectus abdominals). It does include those muscles, but it also covers a larger area than most people realize. The core is the stabilizer of the body. It’s part of every movement, and without it, you are missing the foundation needed to improve in fitness and pickleball. You can succeed, but you will face more challenges and injuries than if you build your core first.
The core comprises several muscle groups that connect to the pelvis, spine and hip area. For this reason, developing stability is crucial as it will affect the areas around it. For example, without stability, the hips may overcompensate for the core, resulting in tightness or injury. If there is a problem with the hips, back pain may begin because the muscles affected by the core are fatigued. This negatively affects a pickleball player because all of those muscles are required to excel at the game.
When I’m approached about training someone specifically for pickleball, I start by challenging their stability in most exercises. I intend to help them understand what it means to engage their core, show them why it is so important and help them increase strength. When people learn to engage their core correctly, their back and hip pain often go away because they are no longer compensating with the wrong muscles; instead, they are all working together to accomplish stability.