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Pickleball players learn injury prevention and skills for charity

Elizabeth Apmann and other instructors worked individually with session participants.
Elizabeth Apmann and other instructors worked individually with session participants.
Photo by Carter Weinhofer
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The Rotary Club of Longboat Key helped to train a group of intermediate level pickleball players, while also educating them on injury prevention — and raising money for charity.

Through ticket sales and sponsorships, the Feb. 21 event raised over $12,000 to go toward the Rotary Club’s many initiatives, including coastal ecology and sustainability education, food insecurity and child literacy. 

The event operated in two sessions, each with 20 participants. There were also 20 instructors and assistants to help with the instruction, which provided for a more one-on-one atmosphere. 

First, players had a 30-minute injury prevention clinic led by physical therapists with Fitness Quest Physical Therapy, which is housed in the Tidewell Foundation building. 

Michael Ehlers with the physical therapy group gave players a brief introduction to pickleball injuries, saying that the No. 1 cause is a change of direction, specifically in the kitchen, or area near the net, on the court. 

This results in mostly lower body injuries, like spraining an ankle during an abrupt and awkward twist. Other common lower body injuries have to do with the knee. 

Upper body injuries are common, too. Shoulder injuries are something that’s frequently seen with paddle or racket sports, Ehlers said. He also added that injuries to the long head of the bicep are among the most common with those kinds of sports. 

Michael Ehlers with Fitness Quest Physical Therapy.
Photo by Carter Weinhofer

Static stretching is good for short-term injury prevention, Ehlers said. That’s something that can be done right before going onto the court. 

But what he focused on during the talk was dynamic stretching, a long-term injury prevention method and part of some injury rehabilitation processes. 

“That’s ultimately how you return to sport,” Ehlers said.

Ehlers and his colleague, Kayla Baum, walked participants through a number of dynamic stretches, most of which worked multiple parts of the body. 

For example, different types of lunges loosened up the lower body while also engaging the core. And with resistance bands, some stretches worked shoulders and upper back muscles. 

All those stretches could be incorporated into a player’s warm up routine before going out onto the court. 

If injuries do happen, Ehlers said ice is best for the acute stage, or right after an injury. Heat is best for after the injury is out of the acute stage. 

Elizabeth Apmann was one of the instructors who taught the group the drop shot technique.
Photo by Carter Weinhofer

Ehlers could see braces among the crowd. He pointed out that those are a good tool, and a common injury intervention method. 

“But they’re even more beneficial when you combine them with the dynamic stretching,” he said. 

After Ehlers and Baum finished the injury prevention clinic, community pickleball experts led participants in a demonstration of a drop shot, an intermediate player technique. The players then had about an hour to work with the trainers and assistants. 

In between sessions, members of the Rotary Club and sponsors raffled off the door prizes, which include two pickleball paddles and a variety of gift certificates for Longboat Key businesses, most within the $100 range.  



Carter Weinhofer

Carter Weinhofer is the Longboat Key news reporter for the Observer. Originally from a small town in Pennsylvania, he moved to St. Petersburg to attend Eckerd College until graduating in 2023. During his entire undergraduate career, he worked at the student newspaper, The Current, holding positions from science reporter to editor-in-chief.

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