There are a lot of tips when it comes to the sport of pickleball (including in Pickler’s free pickleball newsletter). But, there is one resounding tip that pro pickleball players note as their best tip, which is…
MOVE YOUR FEET!
Pro pickleball players from Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters to Mircea Morariu all note that footwork and moving your feet is crucial to playing better pickleball. But, what exactly does this mean?
Generally speaking, move your feet means positioning your lower body to be behind the pickleball, so that you can set up your shot from the ground up. In other words, by positioning yourself behind the pickleball you will strike the pickleball out in front of your body—which will help you hit the best shot possible. Plus, you will be able to generate more pace and power on your shots, as well as more easily prepare for your next shot and stay as balanced as possible.
To put it more concretely, think of the following in order to move your feet on the pickleball court:
- 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.
- Remain balanced – Balance is crucial in quality footwork—otherwise, you may just fall over. To help you remain balanced, have a sturdy 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.
- Transfer your weight – Use your footwork to help you generate power on your shots. To do this, transfer your weight from back to front (from the ground up) on your shots. Be sure to remain low in your athletic stance in order to keep your power concentrated behind the pickleball and avoid sailing the pickleball out of bounds.
- Find the proper court positioning – Use your feet to put yourself in the best position on the pickleball court. For instance:
- 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.
- Be sure to take lateral steps at the Non-Volley Zone line (as opposed to crossover steps) in order for you to hold the line and enable yourself to quickly get ready for the next shot (as crossover steps are more difficult to recover from).
- On lobs, avoid backpedaling. Rather, drop step and move sideways back to hit the lob out of the air or otherwise retrieve the lob.
- And, as noted above, split step! Don’t forget to split step immediately prior to your opponents hitting the pickleball, which will enable you to better react to your opponents’ shot.
To put it mildly, move your feet is important to your pickleball game. In fact, according to some of the best the sport of pickleball has to offer, it is the number 1 tip that you can take with you to the pickleball courts. So, move your feet! And, according to Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters (your reigning two-time National Champions), have fun, too.