What Muscles Does Pickleball Work? (2023)

Are you a pickleball player looking to work on your game? Besides honing your strokes and technique, one thing that can help up your pickleball play is understanding what muscles are being used in the sport. 

Because let’s face it, if those legs aren’t working—you’re not walking away with a win! So join us as we explore which parts of the body are put to work during a pickleball match and how focusing on these muscle groups can allow you to become the best competitor out there.

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What Muscles Does Pickleball Work?

Pickleball is an increasingly popular sport that can give you a decent workout. It mainly works the shoulders, triceps, and core muscles — however, it goes farther than that! The shoulder girdle muscles are strengthened as well, allowing for more stability when performing lateral movements.

The rotator cuff muscles also receive a much needed workout or strengthening depending on what you’re looking for with pickleball. Don’t just let the small stature of this sport fool you – pickleball will work your whole body!

What Muscles Does Pickleball Work

During a game of pickleball, players use a variety of muscles to move around the court, hit the ball, and defend their side of the net. Some of the main muscles that are engaged during pickleball include:


These are the muscles at the front of the thigh that are responsible for extending the knee. They are used when moving around the court, as well as when hitting shots.


These muscles are located at the back of the thigh and are responsible for flexing the knee and extending the hip. They are used when lunging to reach a shot, as well as when changing direction quickly.

Gluteus maximus:

This is the largest muscle in the buttocks, and it is responsible for extending the hip and rotating the leg outward. It is used when moving around the court and when hitting shots.

Abdominal muscles:

The abdominal muscles, including the rectus abdominis and the obliques, are used to stabilize the trunk and maintain balance while moving around the court. They are also used to generate power when hitting shots.

Shoulder muscles:

The shoulder muscles, including the rotator cuff muscles and the deltoids, are used to lift and rotate the arm when hitting shots. They are also used to maintain balance and stability when moving around the court.

Forearm muscles:

The forearm muscles, including the flexors and extensors, are used to grip the paddle and control the ball when hitting shots.

In addition to these muscle groups, pickleball also engages other muscles throughout the body, including the calves, the chest, and the back. Overall, pickleball is a great way to get a full-body workout and improve cardiovascular endurance, as well as develop hand-eye coordination and agility.

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What Are 3 Benefits About Playing Pickleball?

If you are considering trying pickleball, here are three benefits that you may want to consider:

Low-impact exercise:

Pickleball is a great way to stay active and get a good workout without putting too much strain on your body. The game is played at a slower pace than tennis, so there is less running and jumping involved. This makes it an ideal activity for people who are recovering from an injury or looking for a gentler form of exercise.

Social interaction:

Pickleball is a great way to meet new people and make friends. Many communities have pickleball clubs or leagues that offer organized games and social events.

Whether you are playing in a recreational or competitive setting, pickleball provides an opportunity to connect with others who share your love for the game.

Fun and enjoyment:

Above all, pickleball is a fun and enjoyable way to spend your time. The game is easy to learn, and it is suitable for players of all skill levels. Whether you are a seasoned athlete or a beginner, you can have a great time playing pickleball.

The game is also adaptable to different playing styles, so you can tailor it to your preferences and abilities.

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Is Pickleball A Strenuous Exercise?

First, it’s important to note that the level of intensity and physical demand of pickleball can vary depending on the individual and their skill level. For some, pickleball may be a leisurely activity, while for others, it can be a high-intensity workout.

One factor that can affect the intensity of pickleball is the speed of play. The ball travels slower in pickleball compared to other racquet sports like tennis, but it can still reach high speeds depending on the skill of the players.

This means that players must be quick on their feet and ready to react to the ball at all times. The constant movement and quick reactions required can lead to a moderate to high level of cardiovascular intensity.

In addition to the cardiovascular demands, pickleball also requires strength and endurance in the upper body, particularly in the arms and shoulders. 

The constant back and forth movement of the ball can lead to fatigue in these muscle groups, especially for those who are not used to using them regularly. The use of paddles also requires a certain level of hand-eye coordination, which can be demanding on the brain as well.

Overall, pickleball can be a moderate to high-intensity exercise depending on the individual and their skill level. It requires a combination of cardiovascular endurance, upper body strength, and coordination, making it a well-rounded workout for the entire body.

However, it’s important to note that pickleball can be modified to fit the needs and fitness levels of each individual. Players can choose to play at a slower pace or take breaks as needed to adjust the intensity. 

It’s also possible to play pickleball with a lower level of intensity by using a lighter ball or modified paddles.

Do You Have To Be Fit To Play Pickleball?

It’s important to note that pickleball is still a physical activity, and some level of physical fitness can certainly be beneficial for players. This is especially true for those who are interested in playing pickleball competitively or at a high level.

So, do you have to be fit to play pickleball? The short answer is no – pickleball is a game that can be enjoyed by people of all fitness levels. However, being fit can certainly help you improve your performance on the court and make the game more enjoyable.

Here are a few ways that being fit can benefit pickleball players:

  • Increased endurance: Pickleball can be a physically demanding game, especially if you’re playing for long periods of time or at a high intensity. Having good endurance can help you stay energized and focused throughout the game.
  • Improved mobility: Pickleball requires quick footwork and agility, and being fit can help you move around the court more easily. This can be especially important for seniors, who may have mobility issues due to age or other factors.
  • Better recovery time: Pickleball can be tough on the body, and it’s important to have good recovery time in order to avoid injury and keep playing at your best. Being fit can help your body recover more quickly after a game, allowing you to get back on the court more quickly.

Now, let’s talk about whether pickleball is good for seniors. In general, pickleball is an excellent activity for seniors because it’s low-impact, easy to learn, and can be played at a variety of intensity levels. It’s also a great way to get some exercise, socialize with others, and have fun.

Pickleball can be particularly beneficial for seniors who are looking to improve their balance, coordination, and mobility. The game requires quick footwork and agility, which can help seniors maintain or improve these important physical skills.

However, it’s important for seniors to listen to their bodies and start slowly if they’re new to pickleball or haven’t played in a while. It may be helpful to start with shorter games or lower-intensity play, and gradually increase the intensity as you become more comfortable with the game.

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Pickleball Exercises for Seniors at Home

Now, I will guide you through a series of pickleball exercises tailored specifically for seniors, allowing you to stay active and improve your game from the comfort of your own home.

Before diving into any exercise routine, it’s essential to warm up your muscles. Spend 5-10 minutes doing light cardiovascular exercises like marching in place, gentle arm circles, and ankle rotations. This will increase blood flow and prepare your body for the upcoming exercises.

Maintaining good balance and stability is vital in pickleball, especially for seniors. Perform exercises that focus on improving your balance, such as standing on one leg for 30 seconds, gradually increasing the duration as you progress.

You can also try heel-to-toe walking along a straight line or using a balance board to challenge your stability.

A strong core is essential for pickleball, as it improves your overall stability, power, and control. Incorporate exercises like plank holds, seated Russian twists, and bridges into your routine.

These exercises target the abdominal, back, and hip muscles, which are crucial for maintaining balance and generating power during shots.

Pickleball requires a strong upper body for accurate shots and quick movements. Include exercises that target your arms, shoulders, and back muscles.

Some examples include push-ups against a wall or on your knees, bicep curls with light dumbbells or resistance bands, and seated rows using resistance bands.

Strengthening your lower body is important for stability, quick lateral movements, and explosive power in pickleball. Exercises such as squats, lunges, and calf raises can be done without any equipment.

You can also use a stability ball or resistance bands to add variety and intensity to your leg exercises.

Maintaining flexibility is crucial to prevent injuries and maintain a full range of motion. Incorporate gentle stretching exercises targeting the major muscle groups used in pickleball, including your shoulders, hips, and legs.

Aim to hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds without bouncing, and remember to breathe deeply during each stretch.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Pickleball Strenuous?

The level of strenuousness in pickleball can vary depending on factors such as intensity of play, skill level, and individual fitness. Pickleball is generally considered a low-impact sport that is easier on the joints compared to activities like running or tennis.

However, it can still provide a good workout, especially when played at a competitive level or with a fast-paced and energetic style. Players can engage in quick movements, dynamic footwork, and continuous hitting, which can elevate the heart rate and contribute to cardiovascular fitness.

Additionally, pickleball can help improve muscular strength, agility, and coordination.

Is Pickleball a Good Workout?

Pickleball can be a good workout depending on the level of intensity and effort you put into the game. While it may not be as physically demanding as some high-intensity sports, it still provides a decent cardiovascular workout.

Playing pickleball involves constant movement, quick bursts of speed, and engaging in both upper and lower body movements, which can contribute to improving your aerobic fitness, agility, and coordination.

Additionally, it can help build muscular strength and endurance, especially in the core, legs, and arms. The intensity of the workout can be adjusted based on the pace of play, the skill level of the players, and the duration of the session.

Overall, pickleball can offer a fun and effective way to stay active and get a good workout.

Can you hit a pickleball with your hand?

Yes, according to the provided information, hitting the pickleball with your hand below the wrist while holding the paddle is legal in pickleball. However, if the ball hits any other part of your body when attempting to hit it with the paddle hand, it would be considered a fault.

Michael Stevenson

Michael Stevenson

Hi, my name is Michael Stevenson and I’m a passionate pickleball player. I’ve been playing the game for many years and I’m pretty highly skilled at it. Pickleball is one of my favorite topics so naturally, I love to write about it.

Whether it’s tips for beginners, guides for experts, reviews of new paddles, or advanced playing techniques – if it relates to pickleball then I have something interesting to write about it. So if you’re looking for entertaining and informative information on the topic of pickleball, look no further than my written works!