Common Pickleball Injuries | Paddle2Racket

Mastering pickleball means mastering safety. Explore typical injuries and their remedies in our comprehensive guide.

The most common pickleball injuries are tennis elbow, fractures, arthritis, and shoulder impingement. These ailments can happen from sudden movements, repetitive motions, or simply overexertion during gameplay. However, players can minimize their risk of injuries and maximize their game enjoyment.

As an expert in sports medicine and a dedicated pickleball enthusiast, I’ve spent years studying the mechanics of this game, its physical demands, and the potential risks involved. I've also worked closely with athletes and individuals who have faced pickleball-related injuries, providing me with real-world insights into prevention, treatment, and recovery strategies. As such, I’ll empower you with the essential information you need to enjoy the game while safeguarding your well-being.

Table of contents


Understanding Pickleball Injuries

Pickleball is an increasingly popular sport enjoyed by people of all ages. However, as with any physical activity, it comes with a risk of injury. By understanding the most common types of pickleball injuries, players can take steps to reduce their risk and maintain their overall health.

Ankle sprains, wrist fractures, and overuse injuries like Achilles tendon rupture and tennis elbow are some of the most common pickleball injuries players may experience. These injuries can occur due to sudden movements, falls, or repeated stress on specific body parts.

In addition to the injuries mentioned above, pickleball players may experience head injuries from collisions and eye and upper extremity injuries from accidental contact with the ball, paddle, or other players. It's crucial for players to be aware of these risks and take appropriate safety precautions while on the court.

Proper warm-ups, using appropriate equipment like quality running shoes, and taking breaks to allow healing are effective ways to prevent common pickleball injuries.

Common Pickleball Injuries

 As a beloved pastime and sport, pickleball is enjoyed by many. However, its players can still experience various traumatic injuries if they don't take necessary precautions and maintain proper techniques. They include the following:

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a common pickleball injury. This condition occurs when forearm muscles become inflamed as a result of repetitive motions, such as swinging a paddle.

To prevent tennis injuries, it's essential to follow proper techniques and ensure that your equipment, such as paddles and grips, is appropriate for your skill level and playing style.


Individuals who play pickleball can experience different types of fractures, particularly in the wrist and hand. One common cause of fractures in pickleball is the "FOOSH" injury, which stands for "fall on an outstretched hand." This injury happens when you try to catch yourself when falling, leading to fractures in the wrist and hand bones.

To prevent injury, it's crucial to maintain balance, use proper footwork, and avoid falling while back-peddling. Turning around and running back toward the end of the court when a lob is hit can also help minimize the risk of falling. In case of severe injuries, you should consider visiting an orthopedic surgeon.


Playing pickleball, especially over a more extended period, can lead to arthritis in the joints. The sport's repetitive motions and the impact on the joints can cause inflammation,  severe pain, and stiffness.

To manage and prevent arthritis, players should consider incorporating strengthening exercises and flexibility training into their routines. Additionally, using proper techniques, warming up before play, and allowing adequate time for rest and recovery can help prevent arthritis from worsening.

Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement is another common injury in pickleball. It occurs when the rotator cuff tendons in the shoulder become pinched or irritated due to repetitive overhead and side-to-side movements, such as serving and smashing the ball. Players may experience pain and decreased range of motion in their shoulders, which could affect their performance.

To prevent shoulder impingement, it's essential to use proper techniques, strengthen the rotator cuff muscles, and incorporate warm-up exercises that target the shoulder before playing. Additionally, using lightweight paddles and proper court or tennis shoes can also help prevent shoulder injuries.

Similarities and Differences with Other Racket Sports

Pickleball is a fast-growing sport, often compared to racket sports like tennis and badminton. It has its own unique set of rules, techniques, and demands on players. We'll explore the most common injuries in pickleball and how they compare to those in tennis and badminton.

The sport gains its popularity because of the minimal impact it has on the body as compared to other traditional racket sports. However, injuries can still occur and are best addressed by trained sports medicine professionals.

Here, we'll draw on similarities and differences with other racket sports, such as tennis and badminton, to better understand injury prevention and management in pickleball.

Factor Pickleball Tennis Badminton
Playing Surface Hardcourt Hardcourt, Grass Indoor Courts
Serve Mechanism Underhand Overhand Overhead, Underhand
Upper Body Stress Moderate High High
Lower Body Stress Moderate High Moderate to High
Common Injuries Rotator cuff injuries and inflammation, Tendonitis Tennis Elbow, Ankle Sprain Ankle Sprains, Knee Injuries

While pickleball shares some similarities in injuries with tennis and badminton, there are also key differences. The underhand serve in pickleball reduces strain on the upper body, contrasting with the overhand serves in tennis and overhead serves in badminton, which can lead to more chronic injuries.

However, the repetitive use of force in pickleball can still result in rotator cuff inflammation or Achilles injuries.

Another key difference in injuries lies within the playing surface and the overall stress on the lower extremities, including your inner thighs. Pickleball is typically played on hard courts, which can create more of an impact on players' joints than the softer surfaces found in tennis and badminton. This can lead to a higher risk of acute injuries such as ankle sprains.

Prevention and Cure

Alongside seeking medical attention from a physical therapist or an orthopedic specialist, proper warm-up, hydration, protective gear, and strengthening exercises can further help in preventing pickleball injuries.

These exercises can aid by improving muscle strength and flexibility, promoting quicker recovery, and offering balanced muscular support during the game.

Importance of Warm-Ups

Warming up before playing pickleball is crucial in preventing injuries. A thorough warm-up prepares your body for the physical demands of the game and ensures increased blood flow to the major muscle groups in your body.

Additionally, proper stretching starting from the feet up and light jogging can help prevent pickleball injuries like Achilles tendon strains.

Proper Hydration

Staying hydrated is essential for overall health and optimal performance in pickleball. Proper hydration helps regulate body temperature, reducing the risk of heat-related illnesses. It also prevents muscle strains and helps maintain the body's electrolyte balance.

Drink water before, during, and after playing pickleball to ensure adequate hydration levels. In cases where an injury does occur, it’s important to allow your body ample time to rest and visit a primary care physician.

Protective Gear

Investing in the appropriate protective gear is vital for injury prevention in pickleball. The right equipment includes proper footwear that provides adequate support and traction, reducing the chances of ankle sprains and other injuries.

Wearing protective eyewear can help prevent potential eye injuries, especially during fast-paced games. To minimize the risk of tendinitis or "pickleball elbow," consider using a wrist brace or compression sleeve for additional support.

If you have a prior injury on one foot, you may choose to wear an elastic bandage for added support and to reduce the risk of aggravating the injury during play.

Key Takeaways

  • An overuse injury like a tennis elbow is prevalent due to repetitive motions.
  • Proper warm-up and stretching help prevent strains and sprains.
  • Footwork and balance training reduce the risk of heel bone and ankle injuries.
  • Wearing protective gear like knee pads and wrist guards is advisable.
  • Seeking timely medical attention accelerates recovery and prevents complications.


Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens

Since initially playing at the collegiate level, I have amassed several decades of experience playing racquetball, tennis, and pickleball. I have played thousands of matches and games, and won medals and awards in multiple tourantments. I am constantly improving my game and enjoy mentoring and coaching other players in strategy and technique. I have authored dozens of articles on the sport.

Read More About Michael Stevens