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Better Pickleball Performance Begins Before 0-0-2

by Jason Flamm on

A common misconception among amateur pickleball players is that performance only happens during the game. But ask any high-level athlete or trainer, and they'll tell you that is completely false.

Performance begins well before stepping out onto the court, and what you do before and after your games will often determine how well you play and, most importantly, how quickly you can get back out there to do it again.

However, don't just take my word for it. We enlisted three experts in the pickleball performance world to learn how you can optimize your performance and recovery.

Let's meet them.

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Do you take your physical recovery seriously after a tough day of pickleball? We share some methods to bouncing back and some products that could help in the process.

Pre-Game Routine

Before you set foot on a court, it's essential to take a few moments to get moving and prepare your body (and mind) for what it's about to do. Too many players walk onto the court and start smacking the ball around.

Pro tip: If you're short on time, use a Theragun or other massage gun to increase blood flow to targeted areas of your body. This will help you warm up and increase your muscle flexibility.

If you do have time for a full routine, here's what to focus on:

Theragun PRO Plus

From Landon:

A pre-match routine has a few primary goals that can improve your pickleball game:

  1. Increases the blood flow throughout the body – this may be light cardio such as a jog or an upright bike and can be completed in a few short minutes
  2. Enhance mobility/flexibility in directions and positions you will utilize on the court – spinal mobility in various planes of motion, dynamic stretches throughout the lower extremity, lunge movements that can incorporate the upper body
  3. Ramp up the nervous system for high-intensity gameplay – this can look like various plyometric or jumping exercises, sprint and speed work, starting/stopping/changing direction to test agility

Incorporating these variations into your routine will prepare you to compete the moment you step on the court rather than walking into a match cold and feeling like you are not in a groove.

Landon Uetz

Landon Uetz

The Pickleball Physio, Landon Uetz, is a Doctor of Physical Therapy currently living in Arizona. He offers remote rehab, online classes, and in-person lessons through his site The Pickleball Physio.

Theragun Elite

Post-Game Routine

Raise your hand if you stretch after you play pickleball. While we can't see you through your screen, we will guess you do not have your hand raised.

Okay, maybe you do.

But we're willing to bet most people do not stretch after playing pickleball – unless reaching for the remote between couch cushions counts.

Fortunately, there are tools out there to help us – even while on the couch. Therabody offers a full lineup of options that will help you recover quickly and prevent soreness from settling in after a long day of pickleball play.

Some, like the Theragun Mini 2nd Generation, fit perfectly in our bags for on-the-go repair and recovery.

For tips on proper cooldowns, here's Corrective Exercise Specialist Garrett Nealon:

Theragun mini 2nd Generation

From Garrett:

Cooling down is also underappreciated in pickleball because many people feel like they didn’t play that hard or long, but their muscles and joints might be sore in the next few hours or days.

Stretching and mobility are important to a player's performance, especially if you play daily, and can often promote better play the next day. For best practices, include stretches like:

  • quad stretch
  • piriformis stretch
  • calf stretch
  • shoulder stretch

Garrett offers demonstrations of each of these on his Instagram page.

Garrett Nealon

Garrett Nealon

Garrett Nealon is a Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES) and Certified Personal Trainer (CPT). He is also a Director of Sports Performance. On his website, Garrett offers one-on-one online training sessions through his Pickleball Prehab Program.

The Benefits of Doing Both

Each of us is unique, and it's always important for players to understand their needs when choosing when and how to warm up or cool down their bodies.

All three experts agree that a set pre- and post-game routine can greatly impact your life and sports performance.

From Corey:

As someone with a background in injury prevention, I understand the critical importance of pre-and post-workout routines. Incorporating stretching and body prep into your regimen is essential for enhancing your range of motion, reducing injury risk, promoting faster recovery, and optimizing your abilities on the court.

By incorporating both pre- and post-game routines, you will:

  • Increase performance
  • Decrease injury risk
  • Promote overall healing and recovery

Invest in a solid pre- and post-game stretching routine to keep your body in top shape and ready for any challenge.

Corey Bickert

Corey Bickert

Corey Bickert is a certified athletic and personal trainer who currently works with top-ranked pickleball pro Catherine Parenteau. He offers online coaching and training, one-on-one personal training, corrective exercises, and more. Learn more at

How Therabody Helps You Prepare and Repair

Go to any pickleball tournament – amateur or pro – and you'll see someone off on the side using a Therabody massage gun.

The percussive massage they provide helps to stimulate cells and increase blood flow to targeted areas. Because of this, they are the perfect aid in warming up before a match or recovering after one.

The different speeds and head attachments allow you to treat specific pain points, loosen up tight areas, reduce inflammation, and decrease muscle tension.

They are also portable, reducing any excuse you have not to warm up or cool down between pickleball matches.

Theragun Elite

Advice for All Pickleball Players

Any final advice specifically for pickleball players?

From Corey:

Many pickleball players experience tight hip flexors due to their athletic positions during games. To counter this, start with static stretches for your hip flexors. Follow up with exercises like lateral tube walks or wall slides to activate your glutes, helping to preserve the gained range of motion.

From Garrett:

Pickleball is a dynamic sport with demands of agility, power, and mobility on the court. Injuries have risen exponentially, generating over $350 million in 2023 (according to Bloomberg).

By including things like warming up before playing, cooling down or stretching after you play, and implementing strength and mobility when players aren’t on the court, you will dramatically reduce the risk of injury.

You could even save thousands of dollars in the long run by not having elective surgeries resulting from pickleball injuries.

From Landon:

High-level pickleball performance includes speed and agility, strength and power, flexibility and mobility, cardiovascular endurance, balance, and coordination. Knowing the relationship of these components and integrating activities before and after stepping on the court can optimize overall performance.


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Jason Flamm

Jason Flamm

Jason is a writer from St. Louis. He’s been a coach in several sports and is currently working on his pickleball coaching certification. He loves to teach and share his passions.

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