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  • Writer's pictureGregory D. Hamilton

Exercise and Pickleball

Gym Workouts Will Help You Rule the Pickleball Court

Pickleball just keeps growing and growing – in popularity and in media attention.

It’s beyond trendy now, with some 5 million people playing, many of them active agers over 50 – and beyond.

So, it’s important to point out something that many folks might not realize:

Gym workouts make you a better pickleball player.

It’s true. If you want to have more endurance on the (smaller than tennis) court, more power in your swing, and more ability to make those shots – all the time smiling – then you need to come join me for stretching, strength, and endurance training.

Stretching to ‘feel wonderful’

Champ Barb Wintroub, 75, stays fit for the game and advocates for stretching.

“People are getting injured as they get older because they're not stretching,” says Barb, a Pilates instructor in Southern California. “And they're not standing up straight. I'm continuing to do that. And it makes a huge difference.”

She demonstrates in a YouTube video how to do squats for thighs and glutes, rotational twists for the obliques, and other stretches for arms and back. “All of these stretches are supposed to feel wonderful,” she says. If they hurt – stop.

Stretching is simple, and it’s easy to learn when shown the right moves to help improve your game safely and effectively. So, come and let me show you how to warm up before playing and cool down after.

Strong core and glutes are essential

Tim Minnick, 79, of Austin, Texas, has been cited as the world’s oldest active personal trainer by Guinness.

“Core strength is critical in pickleball, especially rotational core strength,” like it is in tennis, golf, and other sports, Tim says. “That means the ability to rotate under control as well as stop rotation to be able to hit the ball and hit where you want to hit it.”

Tim suggests lunges with a pause for balance, and simple glute bridges or hip raises, as demonstrated here.

Pickleball requires quick stops and starts, so it’s important to stay balanced. “That means leg strength is critical here, especially power from the largest muscle group in your body, the glute muscles, better known as the butt,” Tim says.

Working the glutes is important for any sport, including pickleball.

“They produce the power for successful athletic performance at any level,” Tim says.

Endurance is also key

To train for endurance? Tim recommends High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which has been proven in studies to be both effective and safe for mature athletes. HIIT means, as an example, that you run fast for a short time period – say 20 seconds – and then slow down for another time period, then repeat.

That’s how the game of pickleball is played, after all. With tournaments consisting of playing many games in a row, at times.

“Cardiovascular fitness is critical to be able to play in tournaments,” Tim says. “It’s much more fun when you don’t have to stop and catch your breath all the time.”

That’s true for everything in life, isn’t it? Call me and let’s talk pickleball, fitness, and how to keep having fun at any age!

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