Balance and strong footwork are cornerstones of any sport. The most challenging shot to hit is when we are off-balance. Footwork in pickleball is an often overlooked key component of good players.
If you want better pickleball groundstrokes, it’s time to start at the bottom and find out what your feet are doing. Most of us fail to turn our bodies and use our arms and upper body to hit from the baseline. That doesn’t provide much power or accuracy.
There are four things your feet do to create better pickleball groundstrokes.
1. Split step
In the video below, Laura Fenton Kovanda is doing a footwork drill as a warm-up. She is bouncing on the balls of her feet to get the blood flowing to the leg muscles. This position allows her to move quickly to either the forehand or backhand side
Have you ever found yourself standing flat-footed during a match? I have, and it forces me to move to a balanced position before moving into the direction of the shot. It may not sound like much, but it takes precious time away from a quick return. By utilizing the split step and staying light on my feet, I can quickly move to either side of the court.
Turn your body to the target in either direction by using the back foot. If you are right-handed-hitting a forehand, the first move is to drop the right foot back. Conversely, if it’s a backhand, the left foot goes back.
Use a shuffle step back or forward to adjust to the ball and then set the back foot.
4. Swing Through
The body moves from the back foot to the front foot. At the same time, the paddle contacts the ball in front of the hip. The movement of the core and legs provides power. Ball/paddle contact in front of the hip helps with accuracy. This motion shortens the arm swing, another factor in eliminating unforced errors.
Take a look at the video where US Open Champion Laura Fenton Kovonda, demonstrates ideal footwork for better pickleball groundstrokes.
Now you know what good footwork looks like, and how to get it, come back next Wednesday. In part 3, I’ll show you how to get better pickleball groundstrokes by increasing your foot speed. (It’s fun and not as hard as you might imagine)
Hey there — I’m a professional three-sport athlete and coach who has spent my entire adult life earning a living from playing and coaching sports. Since I started coaching more than three decades ago, one thing has remained the same: My commitment to see students not as they are but as what they can become and to move heaven and earth to help them realize their untapped potential. You should know that when it comes to helping pickleball players over 50 live their best lives on and off the courts, I'm an expert. Good pickleball is not just technique; it's the mind and body working holistically. That's why I'm also a personal trainer and weight management specialist. When I’m chillin', you'll find me watching Star Trek with my husband John and our two fur babies, Shirley and Ralph. (Yes, Happy Days)