DON’T LET PICKLEBALL BECOME FICKLEBALL: Swing strengthening and injury prevention.
As autumn is close in Vancouver, many pickleball enthusiasts are transitioning to indoor courts to work on technique, drills, and strength. Let’s talk about how to improve your mobility, strength and stability to optimize your pickleball swing.This should have you ready to impress your friends by next summer!
Here are 4 elements of an efficient Pickleball Swing, along with some specific warm-up exercises to facilitate these muscles and movement patterns!
ROTATOR CUFF STABILITY
The shoulder complex is made up of 3 bones – the humerus (arm bone), scapula (shoulder blade), and clavicle (collar bone). This complex sits on the rib cage. These bones also need to be stabilized in order to achieve optimal shoulder movement for a pickleball swing.
The rotator cuff participates in stabilizing your shoulders. It is comprised of 4 small muscles which help to subtly compress and keep your arm bone centred in the socket. Poor shoulder stability puts you at risk of overuse injuries and impingement of the shoulder.
One pre-game rotator cuff exercise for improving shoulder stability is:
Banded internal rotation (2 sets of 10)
THORACIC ROTATION AND EXTENSION
Mobility and strength in your mid-back allows for more power as well as proper alignment in your shoulders during your swing. The mid back rotates and extends to achieve an overhead reach. Without proper mid back mobility, the shoulder and the lower back will also overcompensate, leading to injuries in those areas.
Try this warm-up exercise for thoracic rotation mobility:
Open the book (2 sets of 10)
Try this warm-up exercise for thoracic extension mobility
Thoracic extension on an elevated surface (2 sets of 10)
The pelvis, hips, and lower body contribute to the power of a swing. The hips should rotate in conjunction with the core to add power. In order for the hip swing to occur, your back leg needs to let go and follow through with your racquet. Therefore, your front leg needs to be strong and stable for balance. In this instance, the glutes play a key role in hip stabilization.
Try this warm-up exercise for stronger glutes: single-leg glute med rotation (2 sets of 10)
A strong and stable support base is needed to gain control of your swing and transfer weight and power from your hips, core, and shoulder into your racquet. In addition to that, your ankles are under constant strain as you try to chase your pickleball around the court. Ankle stability is an essential aspect of your swing that is often forgotten!
Try this warm-up exercise to challenge your dynamic ankle stability: single leg heel raise (2 sets of 10 on each foot)