During the pandemic, the popularity of pickleball exploded as nearly five million players picked up a pickleball paddle in 2021 increasing its growth by 39% in the last two years.

The Sports and Fitness Association named Pickleball the fastest growing sport in the U.S.

It may also be responsible for the fastest growing number of sport injuries among older adults.

The pickleball craze is showing no sign of slowing down.

“My favorite part of the game, that’s smashing the ball and they can’t return it,” said Michael Callen, Pickleball Player.

Especially among an older crowd while increasing in popularity, pickleball is also increasing in some challenges, even for those who played tennis when they were younger.

“The ball is smaller, the court size is smaller. So you are kind of put into a smaller frame. It is more of a challenge to keep yourself vertical,” said Callen.

About 19,000 pickleball injuries occur every year while 91% of those players are 50 or older.

Common injuries include ankle sprains, achilles tendonitis, wrist fractures, and hamstring or quadriceps muscle strain.

So what can players do to prevent these injuries? The first is a proper warmup.

“It’s really arriving at least 15 to 20 minutes early. Getting some light warmup to get your blood flow rolling,” said Charles Bush-Joseph, MD/Sports Medicine Surgeon at Midwest Orthopedics at Rush.

Do lateral steps, grapevines, high-knee marches, skipping and lunges to loosen muscles.

Also don’t skimp on the shoes. Get shoes that have good tread and are designed for tennis or pickleball played on a hard court.

Good footing is your foundation for preventing falls.

“When you go to take a step to the side and you take steps like this, take two. Don’t do like I did to injure yourself and go like that,” said Mary Keiser, Pickleball Player.

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And you don’t need to slam the balls.

“It’s more of a game of fitness where you dink the balls,” said Keiser,