The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: How to Prevent Common Pickleball Injuries

In Knee Pain, Shoulder Pain by Seth Peterson, Physical Therapist Oro Valley

Pickleball is a sport that’s taking the world by storm, but as the popularity of this fun and fast-paced game continues to grow, so do the number of pickleball injuries. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie to the game, it’s important to be aware of the most common pickleball injuries and how to prevent them.

“Pickleball Elbow”

First up, we have the dreaded “pickleball elbow.” This is a common injury among players who use too much force when hitting the ball, causing strain on the tendons in the elbow. Our body is amazingly adaptable, but what catches up to you over time is the repetition of this. Tendon issues (the technical name for this is lateral epicondylitis) are usually “overuse” injuries. This means the load on the tendon was too much, too quick. The best way to prevent this injury is by gradually increasing your volume over time. You can also use proper form and technique when hitting the ball, get a paddle weight that is appropriate for you, and by taking breaks if you start to feel pain in your elbow.

“Pickleball Knee”

Next, we have the “pickleball knee.” This injury is caused by twisting or turning too quickly on the court. If you experience swelling in the knee afterward in the joint, it is a sign that something inside the joint has been aggravated. Although there are a few potential structures, the meniscus is the most commonly involved. To prevent this injury, it’s important to warm up properly before playing, build strength around your knee, and to wear shoes with good support and traction. Also, it is again important to ease into the sport and allow your body to adapt and get used to the forces it requires.

“Pickleball Shoulder”

Another common pickleball injury is “pickleball shoulder.” This is most often caused by overuse of the rotator cuff (a group of 4 shoulder muscles/tendons), which can lead to inflammation and pain. To prevent this injury, it’s important to use proper form and technique when serving and volleying, and to take breaks if you start to feel pain in your shoulder. Remember that “proper” technique and form may be different depending on how much range of motion you have in your shoulder and whether you have had shoulder injuries in the past.


If you do happen to suffer from a pickleball injury, physical therapy can be a great way to get back to the game you love. Physical therapists can help you to regain your strength and flexibility, as well as teach you exercises to prevent future injuries. 

In conclusion, pickleball is a fun and exciting sport, but it’s important to be aware of the common injuries that can occur and to take steps to prevent them. Remember to warm up properly, use proper form and technique, and take breaks if you start to feel pain. And if you do get injured, don’t be afraid to seek help from a physical therapist to get back on the court in no time. Happy picking!