Strength And Conditioning, Pickleball, Padel

Strength Training For Pickleball and Padel

Strength Training For Pickleball and Padel
Published: 2022-12-16
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Both pickleball and padel are gaining great popularity in many countries around the world. Pickleball was invented in 1965 as a children’s backyard game in the state of Washington and in both 2021 and 2022 was named the fastest growing sport in the United States. Padel (not to be confused with paddle tennis) was invented in 1969 in Mexico and is very popular in Spain and several other Latin American countries along with other counties in Europe and Western Asia. 

The games do share similarities and as a result do have commonalities in terms of training for enhanced sports performance. That is, training for one of the two sports would carry over to enhanced performance in both sports being discussed. Because of that, one training plan will be discussed that will be applicable to both sports. 

 

The similarity of the Games of Pickleball and Padel

One of the primary reasons that the sports are so similar is the size of the playing surface.  Pickleball is played on a court that measures 20’ wide and 44’ long. The court is divided in half by a net that is 3’ high. In contrast, padel is played on a court 32’ wide and 65’ long, split in half by a net that is 3’5.39” high. One other significant difference between the two sports is that, in padel, the court is enclosed and the ball can be played off the back and sidewalls. Another notable difference is that, at the professional level, padel is played as doubles while pickleball can be played both as singles and doubles. 

 

pickleballPickleball

 

Padel

Padel

Benefits of Training on Performance for pickleball

In both sports, it is obviously advantageous to be able to cover the court as quickly as possible to position yourself as effectively as possible for each shot. In both sports, the courts are small in size so top speed is not a consideration. However, for high-level performance having a good level of quickness and agility is advantageous. Studies have shown a relationship between lower body strength and quickness (1, 2). As a result, it can be assumed that increasing strength levels in the lower body will have a positive effect on the ability to cover the court effectively in both sports.

In addition to being involved in covering the court, the muscles of the lower body are also subject to a lot of demands and stimulation (6). Jumping, braking abruptly and changing direction quickly put the muscles of the lower body to the test. During a game of pickleball or padel athletes perform far more jumps, quick stops, and changes of direction the than would normally occur during normal day-to-day movements. 

In addition to training the lower body, strengthening the upper body and core are also both important. Increasing strength in both the upper body and core provides the power necessary to hit shots with pace and spin. Further, an emphasis should be placed on protecting the upper body joints most involved in the sport (i.e., elbow and shoulder) from overuse injuries.

In addition to the lower and upper body, having a stronger core (abdominals and low back) offers many benefits to the game (4). Strengthening the core is important to support the body in an athletic position and then have the necessary strength in the core to make the desired shot (1) and for shots requiring rotation or acceleration (7).

 

In addition to performance benefits, strength training is important to protect the body from injury while playing the sports (3). As with any sport, however, pickleball and padel can present physical challenges, particularly for those who may have balance or agility issues or for those trying the sports for the first time. One of the concerns about the rapid growth of the sport is the great popularity of the games among people aged 55 and older and the risk of falls and injury. In fact, the authors of the ACE-sponsored study (American Council on Exercise) highlighted the need for safety, pointing out that nearly every participant had fallen at least once or twice during the study. As succinctly pointed out, it is not the sports of pickleball or padel that cause injury to occur but instead a body that is unprepared to meet the demands of the sport. Increasing strength, in addition to being beneficial in the performance of the two sports, is also of importance in activities of daily living with less discomfort and a decreased risk of injury. Over time people see a reduction in both strength and muscle mass. As a result, it becomes important to make an effort to develop and maintain muscle strength as we age.

With the importance and value of participating in a strength training program for those participating in both of these two sports established, both from a performance and injury prevention point of view, a series of sample workouts are provided below. These workouts progress from an introduction cycle to two consecutive strength cycles. The introduction cycle is meant for someone who has not been participating in a strength training program as a gradual introduction to the demands of the activity. This cycle may seem too easy, but be patient, and don’t rush the preparation process. After this initial cycle, the training gradually becomes more demanding, but not before the body is prepared for those demands (5). The training programs are primarily made up of dumbbell exercises. For many, dumbbell exercises tend to be easier to learn. Further, dumbbells are often more readily available, and having to control both arms independently, rather than both arms moving symmetrically, more closely matches the demands of the sport.

Each cycle is made up of two workout days per week, labeled as day one and day two. The number of required repetitions varies each week, alternating between lower repetition days and higher repetition days. This occurs so there is a weekly variation in training intensity, on lower repetition days the training weight will be higher, and on higher repetition days the training weight will be lower. Further, most of the exercises are also described in my book “Dumbbell Training” published by Human Kinetics.  Remember to always emphasize technique over the amount of weight used in an exercise. That is, correctly performed repetitions performed at a lower weight are of more value than improperly performed repetitions at a higher resistance.

 

Introduction Cycle

Cycle: Introduction

Length: 5 weeks

Goal: Introduce the athlete to the demands of training

Intensity: Select a resistance that allows the completion of the full number of repetitions in good form on each set

Rest:  1:30 between each set and each exercise

Pace:  Lift and lower the weight under control

 

Day 1

 

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Lower Body

 

 

 

 

 

DB Squat

2x6

2x8

3x5

3x7

3x5

DB Good Morning

2x6

2x8

3x5

3x7

3x5

Core

 

 

 

 

 

DB Crunch

2x12

2x12

2x15

2x15

2x18

DB Twist Crunch

2x12

2x12

2x15

2x15

2x18

Upper Body

 

 

 

 

 

DB Bench Press

2x6

2x8

3x5

3x7

3x5

DB Row

2x6

2x8

3x5

3x7

3x5

Rotator Cuff

 

 

 

 

 

Full Cans

2x12

2x12

2x12

2x12

2x12

 

Day 2

 

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Lower Body

 

 

 

 

 

DB Sumo Deadlift

2x6

2x8

3x5

3x7

3x5

DB SLDL

2x6

2x8

3x5

3x7

3x5

Core

 

 

 

 

 

DB Press Crunch

2x12

2x12

2x15

2x15

2x18

DB Bicycles

2x12

2x12

2x15

2x15

2x18

Upper Body

 

 

 

 

 

DB Shoulder Press

2x6

2x8

3x5

3x7

3x5

DB Bent Lateral Raise

2x6

2x8

2x6

2x7

2x8

Rotator Cuff

 

 

 

 

 

Ws

2x12

2x12

2x12

2x12

2x12

 

Strength Cycle I

Cycle: Strength Cycle I

Length: 5 weeks

Goal: Begin higher intensity, higher volume training

Intensity: Select a resistance that allows the completion of the full number of repetitions in good form on each set

Rest:  1:30 between each set and each exercise

Pace:  Lift and lower the weight under control

 

 Day 1

 

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Lower Body

 

 

 

 

 

DB Front Squats

3x9

3x11

3x9

3x11

3x9

DB Back Extension

3x9

3x11

3x9

3x11

3x9

Core

 

 

 

 

 

DB One Leg V-Up

3x15

3x15

3x15

3x18

3x18

DB Stand Russian Twist

3x15

3x15

3x15

3x18

3x18

Upper Body

 

 

 

 

 

DB Incline Press

3x9

3x11

3x9

3x11

3x9

DB Wide Grip Row

3x9

3x11

3x9

3x11

3x9

Rotator Cuff

 

 

 

 

 

Ws

2x12

2x12

2x12

2x12

2x12

 

Day 2

 

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Lower Body

 

 

 

 

 

DB Lunges

3x9

3x11

3x9

3x11

3x9

DB Hamstring Curl

3x9

3x11

3x9

3x11

3x9

Core

 

 

 

 

 

DB V-Ups

3x15

3x15

3x15

3x18

3x18

DB Side Bends

3x15

3x15

3x15

3x18

3x18

Upper Body

 

 

 

 

 

DB Bench Press

3x9

3x11

3x9

3x11

3x9

DB Row

3x9

3x11

3x9

3x11

3x9

Rotator Cuff

 

 

 

 

 

Ws

2x12

2x12

2x12

2x12

2x12

 

pickleball shoes

Strength Cycle II

Cycle: Strength Cycle II

Length: 5 weeks

Goal: Continue increases in strength and hypertrophy

Intensity: Select a resistance that allows the completion of the full number of repetitions in good form on each set

Rest:  1:30 between each set and each exercise

Pace:  Lift and lower the weight under control

 

DAY 1

 

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Total Body

 

 

 

 

 

DB Hang Alt Power Clean

3x4

3x6

3x4

3x6

3x4

Lower Body

 

 

 

 

 

DB Squats

3x6

3x8

3x6

3x8

3x6

DB Lateral Squat

3x6

3x8

3x6

3x8

3x6

Core

 

 

 

 

 

DB Stand Russian Twist

3x15

3x15

3x15

3x18

3x18

DB Twist Back Extension

3x12

3x12

3x12

3x15

3x15

Upper Body

 

 

 

 

 

DB Incline Press

3x6

3x8

3x6

3x8

3x6

DB Row

3x6

3x8

3x6

3x8

3x6

Rotator Cuff

 

 

 

 

 

DB Full Cans

2x12

2x12

2x12

2x12

2x12

 

DAY 2

 

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Total Body

 

 

 

 

 

DB Split Power Jerk

3x4

3x6

3x4

3x6

3x4

Lower Body

 

 

 

 

 

DB Hockey Lunge

3x6

3x8

3x6

3x8

3x6

DB Good Morning

3x6

3x8

3x6

3x8

3x6

Core

 

 

 

 

 

Stand Band Twist

3x15

3x15

3x15

3x18

3x18

DB Crunches

3x15

3x15

3x15

3x18

3x18

Upper Body

 

 

 

 

 

DB Shoulder Press

3x6

3x8

3x6

3x8

3x6

DB Wide Grip Row

3x6

3x8

3x6

3x8

3x6

Rotator Cuff

 

 

 

 

 

Ws

2x12

2x12

2x12

2x12

2x12

 

All exercises demonstrated by John Graham

Clickable links

DB Squat

DB Good Morning

DB Crunch

DB Twist Crunch

DB Bench Press

DB Row

DB Rotator Cuff Full Cans

DB Sumo Deadlift

DB SLDL

DB Press Crunch

DB Bicycles

DB Shoulder Press

DB Bent Lateral Raise

Rotator Cuff Ws

DB Front Squats

DB Back Extension

DB One Leg V-Up

DB Side Bends

DB Split Power Jerk

DB Shoulder Press

DB Hockey Lunge

DB Wide Grip Row

DB Incline Press

Stand Band Twist

DB Incline Press

DB Hamstring Curl

DB Lateral Squat

DB Stand Russian Twist

DB Twist Back Extension

DB Lunges

DB Hang Alt Power Clean

 

 

Conclusion

Pickleball and padel are two relatively new sports with similar characteristics.  Because of their small court size, an emphasis is placed on lower body strength to improve the ability to cover the court quickly while also addressing the need for core and upper body strength.  Resistance training is also of value in the two activities to prepare the body for the demands of the sports and reduce the opportunity for injury.  Training programs are provided to assist in physical preparation; remember to emphasize technique over intensity and progress slowly over the duration of the programs.

References

  1. Sonoda, T., Tashiro, Y., Suzuki, Y., Kajiwara, Y., Zeidan, H.,  Yokota, M.,  Kawagoe, M, Nakayama, Y.,  Bito, T.,  Shimoura, K., Tatsumi, M., Nakai, K., Nishida, Y.,  Yoshimi, S. and Aoyama, T. J of Physical Therapy Science 30(2): 320-323, 2018.
  2. Chaouachi, A., Brughelli, M., Chamari, K., Levin, G., Abdelkrim, N., Laurencelle, L., and Castagna, C. Lower Limb maximal dynamic strength and agility determinants in elite basketball players. J of Strength Cond Res 23(5): 1570-1577, 2009.
  3. https://borealislife.ca/pickleball-strategy/
  4. https://www.pickleballuniversity.com/home/5-of-the-best-strength-training-exercises-for-pickleball-players
  5. https://sportsedtv.com/blog/pickleball-strength-and-conditioning-program
  6. https://pinkpickleball.com/pickleball-exercises/
  7. https://nwpersonaltraining.com/blog/get-strong-to-play-better-pickleball/