Prepare to Pickle

By Tammy Mugavero, Director of Fitness and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist

What I am about to say goes for just about any athlete playing any sport… if you have two players of equal talent or skill, the one who is stronger and more fit will be more likely to take home the win. They will be able to move better, have more control over their shots, be able to generate more power, have more stamina which translates to less physical and mental fatigue, and will be less likely to be injured.

Now, let’s take it to the pickleball courts. To do anything on the court, first and foremost you have to be able to get to the ball. Once you get to the ball, you have to be able to support yourself in an athletic position and use the core and upper body strength to make the shot. You have to recover quickly and prepare for your next shot.

To play at a high level, you have to have good mobility, especially in the hips and lower body. In addition, you have to have good balance which starts with strength and stability in the foot and ankles. You should have ample core strength to generate power, and you need to be both strong and fast. Finally, you must be able to change directions in short bursts from side to side and front to back.

What this means is that you need to train/work out to play well and avoid injury. The bottom line, strong muscles support and move the body and trained muscles generate speed and power. Training programs should focus on multidirectional, muti-joint exercises. These are exercises that I like to say gives you more bang for your buck. These are free weight exercises, like squats and lunges, that also challenge your balance and strengthen your core. However, there’s so much more that makes up a good workout routine for the pickleball player.


A good workout routine to make you pickle fit should be customized to your specific limitations and goals. It shouldn’t be a canned routine that you pull from the internet. Yes, there are types of exercises that are good for all players, but they may not address your specific needs, or more importantly, you may not be ready for a particular exercise and you could get injured while trying to make yourself better. My recommendation is to always test, don’t guess.

This is the problem-solution approach that our TPI and RacquetFit certified professionals take in helping you reach your max potential. Our certified professionals will put you through a number of tests to assess mobility and stability and later strength and power and from that will create a program that’s right for you.

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