1. Cross-training– Involves combining exercises to work various parts of the body. Take on an exercise routine that you can build upon biking, strength training, yoga, exercises in pool, speed agility and quikness training, etc. Cross-training will increase your overall fitness level, increase strength, and reduce injury risk. Often one particular activity works certain muscle groups, but not others; cross-training aims to eliminate this imbalance. Just playing pickleball or any sport for that matter may give you overuse syndrome.
2. Rest-Most athletes know that getting enough rest before and after activity is essential to high-level performance, but many still overtrain. Rest is physically necessary so that the muscles can repair, rebuild, and strengthen. To insure peak performance get a good night sleep prior to your match. If you are going to play several matches in a day, preparation begins many days in advance. Meaning get the proper amount of sleep for 3 to 4 days in advance of multiple matches. Pace yourself, don’t play yourself too hard, too long for too many days in a row.
3. Fuel your body and staying hydrated-Your body is your vehicle, so you have to keep your engine running when you are active. That means fueling up your body by eating the right foods and drinking the right fluids, in the right amounts at the right times. You don’t have to adhere to a rigid schedule and there are no hard-fast rules. But there are some things you should do before during, and after you play.
Not fueling up before a workout is like driving a car on empty!! You won’t have enough energy to maximize your play and you limit your ability to burn calories.
Before play-Ideally, fuel up 2 hours before your match by:
- Hydrating with water
- Eating healthy carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, whole-grain cereals, whole wheat toast, whole grain pasta or brown rice
- Avoiding saturated fats and even a lot of healthy protein- because these types of fuels digest slower in your stomach and take away oxygen and energy- delivering blood from your muscles.
The key is to consume easily digested carbohydrates, so you don’t feel sluggish.
During play- Keep your body hydrated with small frequent sips of water. You do not need to eat during an activity that’s an hour or less. But, for longer, high intensity matches, I recommend eating 50-100 calories every half hour of carbohydrates such as raisins or banana.
After play-I recommend refueling with:
- Fluids-Drink water, of course. Blend you water with Gatorade or 100% juice to provides electrolytes and carbohydrates.
- Carbohydrates- You burn a lot of carbohydrates-the main fuel for your muscles. In the 20-60 mins after your match, your muscle can store carbohydrates and protein as energy and help in recovery.
- Protein-Eat foods with protein to help repair and grow muscle.
It is important to realize that these are general guidelines. We have different digestive systems, so do what works best for you. Know that what you put in your body (nutrition) is as important as what you do with your body. Both are crucial to keeping your engine performing at its best.
4. Warm up-A warm up is a session which takes place prior to your pickleball match (or event). Typically a warm up consist of light cardiovascular exercises combined with stretches.
What happens during a warm up? Most warm up sessions will include a combination of cardiovascular exercises, dynamic stretching and strength drills. The cardiovascular exercise is designed to increase circulation, increase body temperature and bring the heart rate up, while dynamic stretching warms the muscles and prepare them for the movements they will be required to carry out during the match. Explosive strength exercises, which may include sprint drills or jumps, gently increase the level of intensity and prepare your body for sudden movements in the match that will follow; these exercises should only be done once the muscles are warm; this will prevent injury.
Effects of a warm-up- The warm up should gently prepare the body for activity by gradually increasing the heart rate and circulation; this will loosen joints and increase blood flow to muscles. Stretching the muscles prepare them for physical activity and prevents injury.
How long should a warm up last? Most warm up sessions last between 15 minutes and half an hour; this gives the body plenty of time to gradually get ready for physical activity.
Preventing Injuries- The most important reason for doing a warm up is to prevent injury during physical activity; keeping the muscles warm will prevent acute injuries such as hamstring strains and stave off overuse injuries by allowing the body to prepare steadily and safely.
5. Improving balance and coordination– The systems, strategies and tactics in pickleball are best described as organized chaos. A well rounded pickleball player needs a toolbox of movement capability that includes an ability to command the body to move creatively, which represents elements of balance, coordination, mobility and reactivity. Balance is critical to pickleball where athletes are loading or biasing one leg the majority of the time, especially when changing direction or hitting the ball. Pickleball requires the coordination of hand, eyes and paddle to connect the paddle with the incoming ball as well as position our body in an appropriate position to return the ball in an efficient and effective manner. The safest and most efficient way to improve balance and coordination is working with a Exercise Specialist in a controlled environment (ex: personal training, group fitness class, sports specific training, etc)