Playing Pickleball in the Fall
Fall into Pickleball
By Phil Landa
Do you still plan to play pickleball after the summer? Of course, you do!
One of the great things about pickleball is that there is no off season. It’s truly a four-season sport – and not just for indoor play. Pickleball courts often stay jammed until the snow piles up.
Even though the summer heat is still baking the courts, Fall is just around the corner. Check out some tips to keep your game hot when the temps drop.
When it comes to playing pickleball in cooler temperatures, you need to focus on:
- Your body
- Your clothes
- Your equipment.
Work That Body
Stretching is one of the best ways to get your body ready to play pickleball in any weather. But it is super important when playing in the cold. You can get away with skipping a good stretch in the summer when warm temperatures naturally put your muscles in a more flexible state.
Hey, we’re all guilty of calling 0-0-Start five minutes after parking the car, am I right?
But in colder temperatures, stretching is critical to prevent injury.
If you can see your breath, remember to whip through a series of stretches so your muscles and joints are game ready. A simple set of static stretches, such as biceps and triceps stretches, hip and thigh stretches, and calf and Achilles stretches get those large muscle groups ready for play.
Toss in a few dynamic stretches such as knee-to-chest, arm circles, trunk rotations, and leg swings, and you’ll be warmed up to prevent injury and you’ll react more quickly to your opponent’s shots.
Don’t Skimp on Water
Just because it’s cold out doesn’t mean you should scale back on your body’s hydration needs. Just like in summer, it’s good to start your water intake before you get on the court. Even if cooler temps don’t make you as thirsty, remember to keep the water flowing while you play and also during cool down.
The right clothing can make or break your cold weather pickleball.
Dressing in layers is the best way to handle the colder temps, so you can easily shed or add a jacket as conditions change and your body heats up or cools down. A short-sleeve tee with moisture wicking is a great base. Next add a sweatshirt, zip or pullover, to keep your arms warm.
A vest or jacket is ideal to keep your core toasty. There’s a wide variety of styles and fabrics out there to layer on the clothes without restricting movement. And as the calendar flips into the dead of winter, slip on a pair of thermals before getting dressed for an even warmer layer.
Proper Headwear is Clutch
Fall is also a good time to swap out the ball cap for a beanie to trap in body heat and let you play longer in the cold. There are a number of beanies and skullies to choose from that will keep your head warm without getting in the way of your play.
You can also opt for headbands, ear muffs or ear covers. Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to hear your partner call ‘yours!’
And remember to keep a pair of polarized sunglasses in your bag to better track those lobs. As temperatures drop, the sun is actually lower in the sky and can cause significant glare.
Got to Grip It to Rip It
Playing in cooler temperatures can also impact your ability to maintain a good grip on the paddle. Do the math: Cold hands plus a weak grip equals poor ball striking and trouble with your soft, finesse game.
Thankfully, there are a few ways to keep your hands warm to hit consistent shots no matter what the thermometer reads.
Pocket hand warmers are a great way to reheat between points. Available in single-use and reusable/rechargeable models, they provide warmth for chilly hands on demand. You can also tap into your inner Tom Brady and try a wearable hand warmer that belts around your waist so you’ll always be ready for game time.
Pickleball isn’t the only sport with fanatics testing their weather and temperature limits. Gloves designed for cold weather golf and tennis are perfect for pickleball. There are also mitts that let you slide the paddle handle inside and you can hold it with your bare hand.
Keep You Gear Toasty Too
Cooler temperatures don’t just affect you, they impact your equipment as well. Lower temperatures increase stress on pickleballs and weaken their durability. Remember to play with outdoor balls with smaller holes and check individual ball specifications to find ones that are better suited for cold weather play.
It’s critical to practice good paddle care especially in cold weather to preserve paddle integrity and grip performance. Never leave your paddle in the car overnight during cold weather months and check your grip for wear and brittleness from cold play. Check out the Selkirk paddle care guide for more tips on getting the most out of your paddle.
Pickleball is a year-round game, even in the North and Midwest when temperatures can nose dive faster than a well-placed dink. By taking care of your body, choosing the right clothes, and maintaining your equipment, you can play your best and have fun until your favorite courts turn into skating rinks.