Pickleball Is Growing Fast, and So Are the Injuries

February 9, 2023

Pickleball is the fastest growing youth sport in the United States. The 2022 Sports & Fitness Industry Association Report on pickleball found that children between the ages of 6-17 made up 21.2% of the nearly 5 million pickleball players in 2021. School's physical education programs and summer camps have started to include pickleball. One substantial driving force in this sport is that as pickleball gains more adult fans across the world, more of their children are choosing to join in on the fun as well. 

Pickleball is a cross between tennis and ping pong. It is played on a badminton-sized court (approximately 20 x 44 feet). The game begins with 2 players on each side of the court when a ball is served diagonally across the court. The players continue to serve, alternating service courts, until a person faults. There is a seven-foot no-volley zone called “the kitchen” to prevent players from spiking the ball. A team wins when one side reaches 11 points and is leading by at least two points.

Parents and their children need to understand that injuries can occur and how to prevent them. Pickleball is demanding at any age. It involves quick stops and starts, with lots of lunging and twisting. The reason there are so many injuries is any child can just pick up a paddle and play, even though they may not be conditioned for that kind of rigor on their body. In 2021 study researchers found the largest share of emergency room injuries were identified as slip, trip, fall and dive injuries. The frequent starts and stops on the court can lead to slips which has brought a surge in pickleball related injuries, especially wrist fractures.

Four tips for minimizing pickleball injuries

1. Warm up and stretch

      Warm up with five to ten minutes of a cardio activity, such as walking or jogging around the court. Stretch your arms, legs, back and shoulders holding each muscle group for fifteen seconds then resting for five seconds. Repeat this holding and resting five times.

2. Wear proper shoes

     The best shoes to wear for pickleball are court shoes or tennis shoes. Choose shoes that are comfortable with a rubber sole and ankle support to protect your ankles during quick side to side movements.

3. Practice playing first

     Take a few pickleball lessons with a good pickleball coach to learn appropriate play, good techniques, and form. Online tutorials are also available for free.

4. Always Cool down

     As with any sport, it is important to cool down after a game. Try incorporating five to ten minutes of walking and stretching after playing.

If you experience a pickleball injury don't return to action too soon, follow the RICE protocol- Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. If symptoms persist or are serious call Children's Orthopaedic and Scoliosis Surgery Associates to schedule an appointment. 

It is important to take your child to pediatric specialists who are experts in treating only kids. At Children's Orthopaedic and Scoliosis Surgery Associates, LLP our board certified, fellowship trained, specialists provide the best child-friendly care using the latest cutting-edge technology that results in the safest and most accurate outcomes. If you suspect your child was injured playing pickleball, please call our office at (727) 898-2663.

Medically Reviewed by Drew E. Warnick, MD, Board Certified Orthopaedic Surgeon- Sports Medicine Specialist.

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