Pickleball’s growth has exploded in the past year: from 8.9 million players in 2022, the game is expected to grow to 22.3 million players in 2023! As with any sport, preparing for play can mean the difference between an enjoyable game and being sidelined by an injury. Your on-court moves are likely to include pivots, lunges, and rotations or twists, plus the effort of gripping a paddle. PRFC personal trainer and functional strength coach Marcus Haywood suggests the following pre-game routines to help your body prepare for play.

Two warm up options

Single leg reach: This warm up builds stability, balance, range of motion and strength. Stand on one leg. Hold your other leg bent at the knee with your foot in the air. Bend down by hinging from the hips (keeping head up and chest up) and try to touch your toes on your standing leg with your opposite hand (touching your toes is a bonus!). Do 10-15 repetitions on each leg for 1-2 rounds.

Lift one leg and start to hinge forward over the other leg.


As you hinge, reach toward your standing leg with your opposite hand. Repeat the hinge 10-15 times, then do the other side.


Lateral shuffle: Without letting your feet cross over, shuffle laterally to each side, back and forth. Position yourself by thinking about your ready position when on the court: knees bent, hips low, weight on the ball of your feet. Doing a lateral shuffle in ready stance helps you warm up your lower body so that it’s prepared for that same position during play. Warming up with lateral movement helps you absorb momentum changes, like change of direction or a quick stop that can hurt a knee or hip if not warmed up. Take 2-3 lateral shuffle steps for 5-10 yards, 10 times on each side.

Upper body focus

Assisted standing rotations: Standing in a doorway or next to gym equipment, reach across your chest with your arm furthest from a door frame or another support, and use both your arms to pull yourself into a gentle twist. This stretches out back and front of your thoracic spine. Repeat on the other side.

Personal trainer Marcus Haywood demonstrates rotational pickleball stretch

Marcus demonstrates a standing assisted rotation using a doorframe.

Windmills: Give yourself plenty of space, then use a swimming motion to do single arm windmills on each side. Doing one arm at a time is generally more comfortable. Do 10-15 circling forward, 10-15 circling backward with each arm.

Wrist, hand and forearm stretch: Place your palm against the wall with fingers up (extension) or down (flexion) for a wrist stretch. Upward placement focuses most on wrist, downward placement also stretches the forearms. For a third option to stretch the wrist, place the back of your hand against the wall with fingers facing down.

Following this routine provides a head-to-toe warm-up and addresses areas that typically are called upon during pickleball play. Feel free to check in with Marcus with any questions.

Marcus has worked with clients for more than ten years to support their athlete performance training, strength and conditioning, and weight loss goals. He works with individuals and small groups, and his training programs can be inclusive of all ages from children to adults, and modified as needed to respond to a client’s specific needs and interests. He also develops strength and conditioning programs for sports teams. In 2022 and 2023 Marcus was voted Best Personal Trainer in the Culpeper Star Exponent’s annual survey of local services and businesses.