Preventing Pickleball Injuries in Older Adults

Pickleball is a popular sport among older adults, but it also comes with some risks.

Pickleball is huge among the 55+ community, and it is easy to see why. It’s a low-impact, socially-friendly sport played on a small court. Over half (52%) of pickleball players are 55 or older. Nearly a third (32.7%) are 65+. With pickleball providing consistent health and social benefits, it’s continuing to grow rapidly in popularity among this age group.

While the game continues to grow in popularity, the alarming rate of injuries is raising concerns, particularly among older players who may not be physically fit or in shape. Strains, sprains, tendonitis, fractures, and overuse injuries are amongst the most popular issues on the rise. Common factors contributing to these injuries are age-related bone loss, muscle weakness, lack of proper warm-up, technique, equipment, and footwear.

While it’s good to be active, it is not good for anyone to go very quickly from inactivity to high activity. For seniors wishing to participate in the sport, proper routine and technique is necessary, and essential to ensure your body is ready for activity.

Key tips to help avoid pickleball injuries include:

  • Warm up before the match: Stretching and light cardiovascular exercises, such as jogging, will help lower the risk of injury.
  • Cool down after the match: Proper nutrition, rehydration, and stretching, will help your body repair and recover.
  • Being aware of your surroundings: Be careful not to trip on balls that may have rolled onto your side or loose bag straps laying around the court.
  • Reduce fall risks: Maneuver within your abilities on the court, such as turning to run for the ball, rather than back peddling. Communicate with your partner on ball return to reduce collisions.
  • Take regular breaks and don’t over-practice: It is important during the match for seniors to take frequent breaks, as the risk of injury increases with fatigue. When first starting, gradually increase your activity level to minimize overuse injuries.
  • Drink plenty of water and fluids: This is essential for your vital organs and will protect you against heat-related illnesses and dehydration.
  • Use proper training, technique and form: If you are a beginner, take time to join a class or learn the proper technique before playing competitively. Having proper form and mechanics can significantly minimize your risk of overuse injuries.
  • Don’t ignore pain: Use rest and recovery after an intense match, seek medical treatment if an injury occurs or pain persists.

It is important to adopt a regular exercise routine to build a base level of conditioning prior to participating in any new sport.

Consider hiring a trainer, such as one from In Home Senior Fitness, who is dual-certified in physical therapy and personal training. These trainers have advanced knowledge of therapeutic exercises and body mechanics to prepare you for taking on a new sport, reduce risk of injury, and safely recover from injuries as well.

There is no denying the benefits of pickleball for physical and mental health, but take caution to play responsibly and listen to your body to prevent and reduce the risk of injuries.


For more information about In Home Senior Fitness:

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