The reality is, that people will fall.
Fall prevention is kind of a silly concept to me. I try to focus more on being able to fall without getting hurt.
Yes, we want pickleball players to improve their balance and coordination, but falls will happen and the goal of this article is to help you learn how to fall gracefully and without getting seriously hurt.
3 Keys to Avoid Falling in Pickleball
Footwork is important in staying on your feet while moving around the pickleball court. To avoid falling, you should practice different footwork patterns and drills on and off the pickleball court (see also ‘How To Practice Pickleball Alone‘).
In this article, I share my favorite 6 footwork drills.
You can also buy equipment to improve your footwork. Here is an agility ladder we use in the clinic for all sports-related footwork exercises.
Balance is a core component of fall prevention. Balance seems simple, but is actually complex.
Improving balance requires you to work on your visual, vestibular, and proprioceptive systems.
Since there isn’t much to do about improving our eyesight, being sure you have glasses or content lenses is essential. Keeping a well-lighted playing area can help with vision as well.
The vestibular system is often referred to as your inner ear. Some people suffer from vertigo which is a disruption of the vestibular system. Vestibular therapists can help patients with vertigo or BPPV.
The proprioceptive system is your body’s ability to feel joint movement and control subtle changes in position. The proprioceptive system can be improved with practice and specific training.
Practice Getting Down
The first part to avoid falling is learning how to get down on the ground in a controlled way.
There are many videos across YouTube showing you how to get down on the ground, but in my physical therapy clinic I start with a simple transition from standing, to kneeling to side sitting to laying flat on your back on the ground.
I recommend my clients practice getting down on the ground next to a couch or stairs so that in case they are unable to get back up then can use the couch or stairs for assistance.
Practice Getting Up
As you can imagine, getting down is usually easier than getting back up. As mentioned above, getting up from the ground will start with sitting on the ground, turning or rolling to a side sit position. Then continue to turn until you are in a quadiped or hands and knees position. From here some people will choose to transition to a lunge position with one knee down and one hand down before standing. Others will choose to keep both hands on the ground as they walk their feet under their body.
I studied martial arts for nearly two decades and over that time we learned how to fall in many ways. The easiest to learn and hardest to master was rolling.
Since this article is about avoiding a fall on the pickleball court I won’t spend too much time on rolling, but I find that a person who practices a forward roll and gets comfortable performing this activity is less likely to fall on an outstretched arm which is a very common way of getting hurt.
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