CJ Johnson Headshot
CJ Johnson
Tony Roig
Tony Roig

Avoid Pickleball Injuries with Proper Warmup

You know the drill, you show up at the court start hitting a couple of shots, usually a dink because that’s what someone told you to do. Someone else arrives so now you have 4 and after just a couple of minutes, you are playing your first game. Sound familiar?

I’ve managed a 25 plus year career as a golf pro without golfers elbow, until I started playing pickleball!

I know that proper warm up is one of the keys to avoiding pickleball injuries, any sports injury for that matter. I would never think of hitting a golf ball without a warm-up however I often found myself hitting two groundstrokes and then starting the game. Eventually, my elbow paid the price! As I look around the courts those that do warm up which is a small number don’t usually do it correctly. A lot of advice about warm-up has changed over the years. Your high school gym class probably started with a lot of static stretching, like the hurdler stretch, where you hold your body in the stretch for 10-30 seconds or more. Why bother warming up? It prepares the body for athletic movement. Your circulation increases, the blood starts flowing to the muscles and your joints begin to loosen up. Proper warm-up and stretching decrease the chance of injury from a body that is not yet ready to move.

Components of a proper warm up to help you avoid pickleball injuries:

1.  Get the Blood Flowing

Think huffing and puffing. Starting with a few dinks at the net as most of us have done at some point doesn’t normally do that. Run in place, jumping jacks perhaps a fast walk from the car to the court, in the summer I ride my bike to the court. Anything that elevates your heart rate. Start gently and increase your pace.

2. Dynamic Stretching and Joint Mobility

A dynamic stretch is when you move the body through a functional range of motion as an example a walking lunge or the up and over the fence that I show you in the video below. Joint mobility can decrease as we age Along with the arm and leg motions add some ankle rolls and wrist rotations.

3. Movement specific prep

Ok, now it’s time to pick up the paddle. The dink shuffle in the video is one of my favorites. You are working on the dink and getting my body ready for the lateral movement in pickleball. It also helps me to start focusing on the ball. After that we move to the baseline from some groundstrokes, make sure to hit both backhands and forehands. Finally, a couple of overheads to make sure the shoulder and arm are loose.

Want to see the whole routine together? Click on the video below Save


How long is this going to take?

10 minutes or so is probably ideal but you could do it as quickly as 5. Perhaps it’s better to think of it this way, what will take you longer a good warm-up or recovering from an injury? IF this was helpful, feel free to share!
CJ Johnson

Hey there — I’m a professional three-sport athlete and coach who has spent my entire adult life earning a living from playing and coaching sports. Since I started coaching more than three decades ago, one thing has remained the same: My commitment to see students not as they are but as what they can become and to move heaven and earth to help them realize their untapped potential. You should know that when it comes to helping pickleball players over 50 live their best lives on and off the courts, I'm an expert. Good pickleball is not just technique; it's the mind and body working holistically. That's why I'm also a personal trainer and weight management specialist. When I’m chillin', you'll find me watching Star Trek with my husband John and our two fur babies, Shirley and Ralph. (Yes, Happy Days)


  1. Avatar photo Ken Kaplan on February 19, 2022 at 6:32 pm

    A real essential video — that I really intend to utilize. Nice job CJ.!

    • Avatar photo CJ Johnson on February 20, 2022 at 4:02 am

      Glad you like it Ken. It will help your body.

  2. Avatar photo Dawna Turner on March 13, 2022 at 3:11 am

    I’ve used this for over a year, and it is SO effective!!! Thank you so much CJ!

    • Avatar photo CJ Johnson on March 13, 2022 at 5:18 am

      We’re glad you found it helpful Dawna

  3. Avatar photo Mikki Blaes on March 21, 2022 at 10:23 pm

    These are great! I have not seen anyone do these, but thought I should! I will be doing them!! Thank you!

  4. Avatar photo Sylvia on May 24, 2022 at 3:33 pm

    Just starting out… so glad I found you! Great tips, thank you 👍

    • Avatar photo CJ Johnson on May 25, 2022 at 1:44 am

      Welcome to the game Sylvia

Leave a Comment

Like what you see?

Subscribe to the free newsletter today for more exclusive pickleball tips.