What Muscles Does Pickleball Work?

What Muscles Does Pickleball Work?

Pickleball is a fun and fast-paced sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. It is played with a paddle and a plastic ball on a smaller court, making it accessible to people of all ages and fitness levels. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned player, understanding the muscles involved in pickleball can greatly enhance your game and overall performance.

Knowing which muscles are working during pickleball is essential for several reasons. First, it helps you target specific areas for improvement and focus your training efforts. By strengthening the right muscles, you can enhance your agility, power, and endurance on the court.

Secondly, understanding the muscles involved can help prevent injuries. By knowing which muscles are most active, you can engage in targeted warm-up exercises and stretches to prepare those muscles for the demands of pickleball. This can reduce the risk of strains, sprains, and other common injuries.

Lastly, being aware of the muscles used in pickleball can help you develop a balanced fitness routine. By incorporating exercises that target the specific muscle groups, you can improve your overall strength, stability, and mobility, which will contribute to better performance on the court.

In the following sections, we will explore the key muscles involved in pickleball and discuss how they contribute to your game. So, let’s dive in and discover the muscles that power your pickleball skills!

Also Read: Tennis vs Pickleball Calories

What Muscles Does Pickleball Work and How To Strength Them?

What upper body muscles does work in pickleball?

What Muscles Does Pickleball Work?

Shoulder muscles

When it comes to pickleball, your shoulder muscles play a crucial role in executing powerful shots and precise movements on the court. Two main groups of muscles in your shoulders are particularly active during gameplay: the deltoids and the rotator cuff muscles.


The deltoids are the large muscles that cover the tops of your shoulders. They consist of three parts: the anterior (front), medial (middle), and posterior (rear) deltoids. These muscles work together to raise your arms, rotate them, and help stabilize your shoulder joints. When you swing your paddle to hit the ball, the deltoids are responsible for generating the necessary force and control.

Rotator cuff muscles

The rotator cuff muscles are a group of four muscles that surround the shoulder joint. They consist of the subscapularis, teres minor, supraspinatus, and infraspinatus. These muscles play a crucial role in stabilizing the shoulder joint and facilitating smooth, controlled movements. They help rotate and lift your arm, allowing you to perform shots like the serve, forehand, and backhand in pickleball.

Engaging and strengthening these shoulder muscles through targeted exercises can improve your shot accuracy, power, and overall shoulder stability. It’s important to warm up these muscles before playing and incorporate exercises such as shoulder presses, lateral raises, and external rotations into your fitness routine to keep them strong and injury-free.

What Arm muscles does work while playing pickleball?

What Muscles Does Pickleball Work?

Your arm muscles play a vital role in pickleball, contributing to the power, control, and accuracy of your shots. Let’s explore two key arm muscles that are actively engaged during gameplay: the biceps and triceps.


The biceps muscles located on the front of your upper arm. They are responsible for bending your elbow and bringing your forearm towards your upper arm. When you swing your pickleball paddle forward, the biceps contract to generate force and propel the ball. They are particularly active during shots like the forehand and overhead smash.

To strengthen your biceps, you can include exercises such as bicep curls and hammer curls in your training routine. These exercises involve flexing your elbow against resistance, helping to build strength and improve the power behind your shots.


The triceps are the muscles located on the back of your upper arm. They play a vital role in extending your elbow and straightening your arm. While playing pickleball, the triceps are active during shots like the backhand and overhead swings, as they work to control and stabilize your arm during the follow-through.

To strengthen your triceps, exercises like tricep dips, tricep pushdowns, and overhead tricep extensions can be beneficial. These exercises involve extending your elbow against resistance, which helps develop stronger and more stable triceps.

By focusing on strengthening both your biceps and triceps, you can improve the power and control of your shots, leading to more effective gameplay. It’s important to maintain a balanced approach by training both muscle groups equally to avoid muscle imbalances and potential injuries.

What Chest muscles does work in pickleball?

What Muscles Does Pickleball Work?

Pectoralis major

Large muscle called the pectoralis major is found in the chest area. It extends across the front of your chest and connects your upper arm bone to your breastbone. This muscle plays a significant role in pickleball by helping you execute powerful shots and movements.

During pickleball, the pectoralis major is actively engaged when you swing your paddle across your body for shots like the forehand and backhand swings. This muscle contracts to generate force and control the movement of your arm, allowing you to hit the ball with power and precision.

To strengthen your pectoralis major, there are various exercises you can incorporate into your training routine. Push-ups are a classic exercise that target this muscle group. By placing your hands on the ground shoulder-width apart and lowering your chest towards the floor while keeping your body straight, you engage and strengthen the pectoralis major.

Pectoralis minor

Beneath the pectoralis major lies the pectoralis minor, a smaller muscle that plays a supporting role in pickleball. Although it is less directly involved in generating power for shots, the pectoralis minor contributes to shoulder stability, which is essential for maintaining proper form and preventing injuries.

The pectoralis minor helps stabilize the shoulder blade, or scapula, during movements such as reaching and lifting. In pickleball, it supports the proper positioning of the shoulder joint, allowing for smooth and controlled movements.

To target the pectoralis minor, exercises that focus on scapular stability can be beneficial. Shoulder retractions are an effective exercise for activating this muscle. Stand or sit upright and squeeze your shoulder blades together, then release. This motion engages the pectoralis minor and other muscles responsible for scapular stability.

What Core Muscles does work in pickleball game?

What Muscles Does Pickleball Work?

Abdominal muscles

The abdominal muscles, commonly known as the abs, are a group of muscles located in the front of your abdomen. They play a crucial role in providing stability, balance, and power during pickleball movements.

Rectus abdominis

The rectus abdominis is a long, flat muscle that runs vertically down the front of your abdomen. It is often referred to as the “six-pack” muscle due to its appearance when well-developed. The rectus abdominis helps with flexing your trunk and bending forward, which is essential for movements like bending down to pick up a low ball or lunging for a shot.

To target the rectus abdominis, exercises like crunches and sit-ups can be beneficial. Lie on your back with your knees bent, and curl your upper body towards your thighs, lifting your shoulders off the ground. This movement engages the rectus abdominis and strengthens the muscle.


The obliques are muscles located on the sides of your abdomen, and they play a significant role in rotation and lateral flexion of the trunk. They assist in generating power and stability during pickleball movements, such as rotating your torso for shots like the forehand and backhand swings.

To target the oblique muscles, exercises like side crunches and Russian twists are effective. Side crunches involve lying on your back with your knees bent, then lifting your shoulder towards your opposite knee, focusing on the side of your abdomen. Russian twists involve sitting on the ground with your knees bent and feet off the floor, then rotating your torso from side to side while holding a weight or medicine ball. These exercises engage and strengthen the oblique muscles.

What back muscles does work in pickleball?

What Muscles Does Pickleball Work?

The back muscles, specifically the erector spinae and latissimus dorsi, are essential for maintaining proper posture, stability, and generating power during pickleball movements.

Erector spinae

The erector spinae is a group of muscles that run along the sides of your spine. These muscles play a critical role in maintaining the natural curve of your spine and providing stability to your back.

During pickleball, the erector spinae helps you maintain an upright posture and supports your trunk during movements like bending forward and rotating. These muscles are particularly active during shots that involve trunk rotation, such as the forehand and backhand swings.

To strengthen the erector spinae, exercises like back extensions and supermans are effective. Back extensions can be done using a stability ball or a back extension bench. Lie face-down on the stability ball or bench with your feet anchored, and lift your chest off the ball or bench by contracting your lower back muscles. Supermans involve lying face-down on the ground and lifting your arms and legs off the floor simultaneously, engaging your lower back muscles.

What Lower Body Muscles does work in pickleball?

What Muscles Does Pickleball Work?

Leg muscles

Your leg muscles are instrumental in providing power, stability, and agility during pickleball. Let’s explore two key leg muscles that are actively engaged: the quadriceps and hamstrings.


The quadriceps, or quads for short, are a group of muscles located on the front of your thighs. These muscles include the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius. The quads play a vital role in movements such as running, jumping, and squatting, making them essential for pickleball.

During pickleball, the quadriceps are engaged when you lunge forward, push off the ground, or jump to reach for shots. These muscles contract to extend your knees and generate power for explosive movements on the court.

To strengthen your quadriceps, exercises like squats and lunges are effective. Squats involve standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and bending your knees to lower your body as if sitting back into a chair, then rising back up. Lunges can be done by stepping forward with one leg, bending both knees, and lowering your body until your back knee is just above the ground. These exercises engage and strengthen the quadriceps.


On the back of your thighs, there is a set of muscles called the hamstrings. They consist of the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris. The hamstrings work in conjunction with the quadriceps to provide balance and stability during movements.

During pickleball, the hamstrings are active when you bend your knees, perform quick stops and starts, and change directions on the court. They also play a crucial role in controlling the deceleration of your movements, which is important for injury prevention.

To target your hamstrings, exercises like hamstring curls and deadlifts are beneficial. Hamstring curls can be done using a machine or resistance bands. Lie face down on a bench or mat, and curl your lower legs towards your buttocks, engaging your hamstrings. Deadlifts involve bending at your hips while holding a weight or barbell, then standing up while keeping your back straight. This exercise targets the hamstrings and strengthens the muscles.

What Hip muscles does work in pickleball?

The hip muscles are crucial for providing stability, balance, and power during pickleball movements. Let’s focus on two key hip muscles: the gluteus maximus and the hip flexors.

Gluteus maximus

The gluteus maximus, also known as the glutes, is the largest muscle in your body. It forms your buttocks and plays a significant role in hip extension, which is essential for movements like jumping, lunging, and propelling forward.

During pickleball, the gluteus maximus is active when you push off the ground, lunge forward, and execute explosive movements. It is particularly engaged in shots like the serve, overhead swings, and quick directional changes on the court.

To target your glutes, exercises like squats, lunges, and hip thrusts are effective. Squats and lunges, as mentioned earlier, engage the glutes in addition to the quadriceps. Hip thrusts can be done by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground, then raising your hips towards the ceiling. This exercise directly targets and strengthens the gluteus maximus.

Hip flexors

At the front of your hip joint, there is a collection of muscles known as the hip flexors. They include the psoas major, iliacus, and rectus femoris. The hip flexors are responsible for flexing your hip joint, allowing you to lift your knees towards your chest and perform movements like walking, running, and lunging.

In pickleball, the hip flexors are active when you perform movements that require lifting your knees, such as during the serve, lunges, and quick changes in direction. These muscles assist in bringing your legs forward and generating power for explosive movements.

To target your hip flexors, exercises like high knees, leg raises, and standing hip flexor stretches can be beneficial. High knees involve jogging in place while lifting your knees as high as possible. Leg raises can be done by lying on your back and lifting one leg at a time towards the ceiling. Standing hip flexor stretches involve taking a step forward with one leg, bending the front knee, and gently pressing your hips forward.

What are the health benefits of pickleball?

Pickleball is not only a fun and engaging sport, but it also offers a variety of health benefits that can positively impact your physical and mental well-being. Let’s explore some of the key health benefits of pickleball:

Cardiovascular Health

Engaging in regular pickleball sessions can significantly improve your cardiovascular health. The sport involves constant movement, quick bursts of speed, and aerobic activity, which elevate your heart rate and increase blood flow throughout your body. This cardiovascular exercise helps strengthen your heart, improve lung capacity, and lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure.

Improved Muscular Strength and Endurance

Pickleball is a full-body workout that engages various muscle groups, leading to improved muscular strength and endurance. The constant movements, swinging of the paddle, and quick changes in direction work your upper body muscles, including the arms, shoulders, chest, and back. Additionally, the lunges, squatting, and quick footwork involved in the game engage the leg muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.

Enhanced Balance and Coordination

Pickleball requires quick reflexes, hand-eye coordination, and precise movements, which contribute to improved balance and coordination. The sport involves hitting the ball accurately, adjusting your position on the court, and maintaining stability during rapid direction changes. These movements challenge your balance and proprioception, leading to improved overall coordination and body control.

Weight Management and Physical Fitness

Regular participation in pickleball can contribute to weight management and overall physical fitness. The sport involves continuous movement and is considered a moderate-intensity aerobic activity. Playing pickleball regularly can help burn calories, maintain a healthy weight, and improve body composition by reducing body fat and increasing muscle mass. It also promotes overall physical fitness by improving stamina, flexibility, and agility.

Joint Health and Flexibility

Compared to high-impact activities like running, pickleball is a low-impact activity that is less taxing on your joints. This makes it suitable for people of different ages and fitness levels, including those with joint conditions or injuries. The movements and stretches involved in pickleball promote joint mobility, flexibility, and range of motion, helping to maintain healthy joints and reduce the risk of joint-related issues.

Stress Relief and Mental Well-being

Engaging in physical activity, such as pickleball, has been shown to reduce stress levels and improve mental well-being. Playing pickleball provides a break from daily routines, promotes social interaction, and releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural mood-boosting hormones. The social aspect of pickleball can also enhance mental well-being by fostering friendships, a sense of community, and a positive outlook.

Cognitive Benefits

Pickleball requires quick decision-making, strategic thinking, and hand-eye coordination, all of which are cognitively advantageous. The sport challenges your brain by requiring split-second judgments, anticipating opponents’ moves, and adapting to changing game dynamics. Regular participation in pickleball can enhance cognitive function, improve focus and concentration, and potentially reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline.

Incorporating pickleball into your routine can bring about numerous health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, muscular strength, balance, and mental well-being. So grab your paddle, head to the court, and enjoy the physical and mental rewards that pickleball has to offer!

What are the mental health benefits of pickleball?

What Muscles Does Pickleball Work?

Pickleball not only offers physical health benefits but also provides several mental health benefits. Engaging in this enjoyable sport can positively impact your mental well-being in various ways. Let’s explore some of the key mental health benefits of pickleball:

Stress Relief and Mood Enhancement

Playing pickleball can serve as a fantastic stress-relieving activity. It allows you to step away from daily routines, work-related stress, or personal worries, providing a much-needed mental break. The physical activity and social interaction involved in pickleball release endorphins, which are natural mood-boosting hormones. These endorphins promote feelings of happiness, reduce stress levels, and enhance overall well-being.

Social Engagement and Community Building

Pickleball is a social activity that promotes communication and teamwork. It offers a chance to socialize, make new friends, and cultivate a sense of identity within a welcoming group.Engaging in regular pickleball sessions can help combat feelings of isolation and loneliness, particularly for those who may be new to an area or seeking social connections.

Cognitive Stimulation and Mental Agility

Pickleball demands mental agility, rapid decision-making, and strategic thinking. During gameplay, you need to anticipate opponents’ moves, adapt to changing situations, and employ effective strategies to outmaneuver your opponents. This mental stimulation promotes cognitive function, enhances problem-solving skills, improves focus and concentration, and boosts mental agility.

Confidence and Self-esteem Boost

Participating in pickleball and witnessing improvements in your skills can boost self-confidence and self-esteem. As you practice and develop your abilities on the court, you gain a sense of accomplishment, leading to increased self-belief. Moreover, positive interactions with fellow players, receiving compliments, and acknowledging your progress contribute to a positive self-image and improved self-worth.

Mindfulness and Mind-Body Connection

Engaging in pickleball can promote mindfulness and a stronger mind-body connection. When playing, you focus on the present moment, the ball, your movements, and the actions of your opponents. This mindfulness practice helps shift your attention away from intrusive thoughts or worries, allowing you to experience a state of flow and deep concentration. The mind-body connection involved in pickleball fosters a greater awareness of your body, movement, and physical sensations.

Improved Mental Resilience and Coping Skills

Pickleball presents challenges and competition, which can help develop mental resilience and coping skills. Facing opponents, dealing with wins and losses, and adapting to varying game dynamics teach you how to handle adversity, bounce back from setbacks, and maintain composure under pressure. These experiences build mental toughness and transferable skills that can be applied in various aspects of life.

Is pickleball bad for senior players?

What Muscles Does Pickleball Work?

Pickleball can be an excellent sport for senior players, offering numerous benefits for their physical and mental well-being. However, it’s important to consider individual circumstances and take certain precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Let’s discuss the factors to consider and how senior players can make the most out of playing pickleball:

Low-Impact Nature:

One of the significant advantages of pickleball for seniors is its low-impact nature. Compared to high-impact sports like running or tennis, pickleball places less stress on joints, reducing the risk of injuries and joint-related issues. This makes it a suitable choice for seniors who may have joint conditions or prefer activities with lower impact.

Gentle on the Body:

Pickleball allows players to modify their playing style to match their fitness level and physical capabilities. Seniors can adjust the pace, intensity, and shot selection to suit their comfort level. Playing with proper technique, using appropriate paddles, and wearing supportive footwear can further enhance safety and reduce the risk of strain or injury.

Social Engagement:

Pickleball provides an excellent opportunity for seniors to socialize, connect with others, and build a sense of community. The social aspect of the sport can positively impact mental well-being, combat feelings of isolation or loneliness, and contribute to overall happiness and a sense of belonging.

Physical Fitness Benefits:

Regular pickleball sessions can help seniors maintain and improve their physical fitness. The sport incorporates aerobic exercise, which supports cardiovascular health and stamina. It also engages various muscle groups, including the arms, legs, core, and shoulders, contributing to muscular strength, endurance, and overall fitness.

Balance and Coordination:

Pickleball involves movements that challenge balance and coordination, which are essential skills for seniors to maintain. The lateral movements, quick footwork, and hand-eye coordination required in the game can help seniors enhance these abilities, reducing the risk of falls and improving overall stability.

Warm-up and Stretching:

Seniors should prioritize a proper warm-up routine before playing pickleball to prepare their bodies for physical activity. This can include light cardiovascular exercises, joint mobility exercises, and gentle stretching to reduce the risk of muscle strains or injuries.

Hydration and Rest:

Staying hydrated is essential for seniors during physical activity, so it’s important to drink plenty of water before, during, and after pickleball sessions. Taking regular breaks and allowing for proper rest is also crucial to avoid overexertion and fatigue.

By considering individual capabilities, taking necessary precautions, and practicing self-care, seniors can safely enjoy the benefits of pickleball. It’s always advisable to start gradually, listen to the body, and seek guidance from healthcare professionals or qualified instructors to ensure a positive and rewarding experience on the pickleball court.

Final Thoughts:

In conclusion, pickleball is a sport that provides enjoyable physical activity for players of all ages, including seniors. It engages various muscle groups, including the shoulders, arms, chest, core, legs, and hips. Pickleball offers numerous benefits, such as improved fitness, social interaction, balance, coordination, and mental well-being. Seniors can safely enjoy pickleball by considering their abilities, taking precautions, and practicing self-care. So grab a paddle, join the fun, and experience the many advantages that pickleball offers.


Can I play pickleball if I have arthritis?

Yes, you can play pickleball if you have arthritis. Just make sure to listen to your body, make necessary modifications, and consult with a healthcare professional for guidance.

What muscles get sore in pickleball game?

In pickleball, the muscles that commonly get sore include the shoulders (deltoids and rotator cuff muscles), arms (biceps and triceps), legs (quadriceps and hamstrings), and core muscles (abdominals and back muscles). These muscles are heavily engaged during gameplay, leading to soreness and fatigue

How many calories do you burn in a single pickleball game?

The number of calories burned during a pickleball match might vary based on a person’s metabolism, body weight, level of exertion, and length of the match.On average, a person weighing around 150 pounds (68 kilograms) can burn approximately 300-500 calories per hour of pickleball play.


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