Using Footwork to get PickleBall Fit

Training is extremely important and should form an integral part of an athlete’s daily routine. Creating good habits and developing muscle memory is so important in having consistency in your game.

Now that we have learned what the core is and how to use it to maximize our body mechanics, let’s now look at our footwork.

FOOTWORK

Our feet are our point of connection to the ground. We initiate our movement from our feet and need to avoid leading with our upper bodies, which only puts us off-balance and takes away from our utilization of the CORE muscles that we spoke about last month.

Good footwork allows us to move towards the ball efficiently, keeps us “open” towards the ball/point, allowing us to prepare for the next shot, and allows us a Ready Position to transfer weight more easily to and from which provides better recoveries between shots.

This Ready Position should be the foundation of our footwork. Begin with your feet just outside of your hips with your knees soft (slightly bent), and your weight in your heels. This should be a relaxed position, with your focus primarily on the ball.

MOVING FORWARD ON THE COURT

We use the “split-step” to move forward on the court. It is a quick movement that will put you back into the Ready Position so you can react freely and quickly to the next ball. After you hit a ball, you can split-step forward and then land in the ready position before your opponent makes contact with the ball. This way you have a stable base to move on and react from.

MOVING SIDE TO SIDE ON THE COURT

When at the NVZ (kitchen) line, your opponents may try to move you around to help get you off-balance and open up holes for them to score a point. We have to move our feet…….. imagine that!! Practice side squatting as shown in this image below. Squat to the right and back to center, and then to the left an back to center. Every time you squat, you must land with your feet outside the hips, toes only slightly turned out and your weight in your heels. Put a paddle in your hand while doing this.

If right-handed, practice hitting a soft forehand dink as you squat to the right, and a soft backhand dink as you squat to the left. (opposite for left-handed folks).


What if the ball is placed further away?? You may have to lunge to the ball. Once again, practice lunging right to center, then left to center. Put a paddle in your hand while doing this, performing soft forehand and backhand dinks.


What if the ball is still out of reach?? Well you may have to do more than lunge for it (unless you are 6’5”). Practice taking a double shuffle to the right, landing in the Ready Position. Then go back to center and repeat on the left. Do this with a paddle in your hand and pretend to hit soft forehand and backhand dinks.


All three of these can be exaggerated to help condition the legs to optimize your PB game.

  1. When side squatting, land deeper into the squat with your hips pushing back and down to just above the knee line, putting your weight into the heels. Do 10 reps per side. Can you feel your thigh and glute muscles engaged? By strengthening these muscles you will develop better muscular control, memory, and conditioning for game time.
  2. When side lunging, land deeper into the lunge with the lunging knee lining up with the second toe and your body weight in the heel of the foot. Do 10 reps per side. You are now strengthening the abductors and adductors (inner and outer thighs) and the gluteus medius.
  3. When shuffle squatting…..shuffle quickly 3x to the right keeping feet outside your hips while shuffling and your knees soft and body low. On the third shuffle, land deep into a squat. Now transfer your weight and shuffle 3x quickly to the left. Continue going form right to left for 1 minute. Not only will this put this footwork into “memory”, but it will also lift your heart rate up and give you great conditioning for your heart. It will also improve your agility (ability to change directions efficiently).

Perform 3 sets of the above 3 moves, with 30 seconds recovery between each set. This should take you about 10-12 minutes and will absolutely get you Pickle Ball fit!!

Comments

  • Generally a good article, though I disagree with your description of the ready position with your weight on your heels. Your weight should be on the balls of your feet so that you can easily move in any direction.