2 Critical Ways Balance Affects Your Pickleball Game
There are two critical kinds of balance in doubles pickleball. And, both are equally important to your success on the court. The two balancing acts that you must achieve are:
- Balance with your body
- Balance with your partner for court coverage
Balanced Body on the Pickleball Court
Balance with your body is so important on the pickleball court because it helps you to:
- Be more efficient in your movements;
- Make contact out in front of your body, which will help you hit the best shot possible;
- Generate more pace and power on your shots;
- Improve your reaction time for the next shot;
- Maintain better court positioning; and
- Win more points!
Generally speaking, balance with your body largely comes down to good footwork. Good footwork is one of the most underrated skills in pickleball. In fact, many pro pickleball players will say their top tip on the court is to move your feet!
To help you on your way to achieve better balance with your body—by moving your feet—try the following 3 pickleball tips:
- Take Small, Balanced Steps – Rather than taking large strides—which can take significant time and be more difficult to change direction—take small, balanced steps. This will help you cut down on the time necessary to change direction, as well as make it easier to split step in between each shot (as a reminder, be sure to split step immediately prior to your opponents hitting the pickleball). However, take everything in moderation—including your small steps. There should not be any “Flashdance Maniacs” on the pickleball court, which could be less efficient and exhausting. Be sure to take small, but balanced steps, to be as quick and efficient as possible.
- Stay on the Balls of Your Feet – Sometimes, pickleball players get caught flat-footed or even on their heels. This leads to slow, clunky feet with slow reaction time and poor weight transfer in your shots (as your body weight is not moving through your shot). To help avoid this, consciously make an effort to stay on the balls of your feet, which—like the small, balanced steps—will help you cut down on your reaction time, enable you to pivot when needed, and help you hit better shots on the pickleball court.
- Have a Solid Base – Have a solid base. In other words, keep your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and keep your knees bent in an athletic stance. If you go too wide with your feet, you may have a tendency to get cemented to the ground, and it will otherwise be too difficult to move your feet. On the other hand, if you go too narrow, you will have less balance and be awkwardly upright, instead of in an athletic stance. So, remain balanced and keep those feet slightly wider than shoulder width.
Balance with Your Partner on the Pickleball Court
Balance with your partner is the second way balance affects your pickleball game. Balance with your partner refers to how you work together as a team to cover the court, and how you decide who takes which shots.
To help you on your way to achieve better balance with your partner, try the following 3 pickleball tips:
- Stay in Tandem – Follow the flight of the pickleball and move in tandem with your partner by staying linked with about 6 to 8 feet of space between the two of you. This will help you cover the most likely shots from your opponents, as well as reduce the angles of attack from your opponents. By staying within 6 to 8 feet of each other, you will be able to close the middle (and prevent your opponents from exposing the “down the middle, solves the riddle” strategy), but you will also need to “give up” some court space that will be low percentage shots from your opponents.
- Who Can Apply More Pressure? – In doubles pickleball, it is easy to believe that one partner is responsible for one half of the court (sideline to centerline), while the other partner is responsible for the other half of the court. However, this would be a mistake. Rather, on each shot, answer the question—who can apply more pressure on your opponents? Whoever has the stronger positioning and stronger shot ability on that particular shot should hit the pickleball. The easiest example is the partner with his or her forehand in the middle of the court should likely hit the pickleball that is down the middle. Using this line of thinking, the pickleball court should not be split evenly between two partners. However, where the split should happen—and achieving the right balance—can be difficult, as one partner can have a tendency to do “too much” or overplay to the detriment of the team.
- Communicate! – To help stay in tandem and achieve the right balance on the pickleball court, communicate, communicate, communicate with your partner! Communication is key to making constant small adjustments. Check out Pickler’s article, “How to Communicate with Your Partner to Improve Your Pickleball Play,” to learn more.
Stay balanced—with your body and your partner—on the pickleball court and win more points!