Do you feel off-balance when you’re moving to hit a pickleball shot? Perhaps someone told you that you’re running through the ball and you aren’t sure what that means? Are you having a hard time hitting the pickleball where you want when you are on the move?
I coach multiple sports and consistency in every game I can think of begins with footwork. Great athletes are excellent movers. Pickleball is not an exception. If you want to become more consistent and win more points, it starts at the bottom. It would be best if you improved your pickleball footwork.
What is good pickleball footwork?
[Tweet “Footwork in pickleball isn’t just about getting to the ball; it’s about the delicate movements required to get to the ball to play the next shot with a balanced base to give you the best opportunity to win the point.”]
One of the biggest mistakes I see players make is they continue running forward while hitting the shot.
A cannon is a perfect example of having one moving part versus two. The barrel sits on a stable base and moves to different positions to shoot. What if the bottom moved too? Would it be as effective? No! Two moving parts are much more challenging to synchronize than one.
Think of your pickleball stroke like a cannon. Your lower body is the base, and your upper body is the top. A balanced lower body supports the upper body motion, making it more consistent.
Let’s take a look at some of the top pros in the game, so we know precisely what good pickleball footwork looks like.
Here is Tyson McGuffin, and you’ll notice that he stops his forward motion before hitting the shot.
Jennifer Lucore is another great mover! She’s in the blue skirt on the right or even side of the court. You’ll see there’s a lot of similarities between her pickleball footwork and Tyson’s. She stops moving forward before hitting the ball. She gains control and accuracy.
Now that you know what it looks like, how do you improve your pickleball footwork and start hitting more consistent shots?
Let’s start by focusing on groundstrokes. Even though this is a baseline drill, it’s going to help your footwork no matter where you’re at on the court, whether it’s the baseline moving to the net or at the non-volley zone.
To set up this drill, place two cones about three feet inside the baseline and two feet from the centerline. Begin by shuffling along the baseline, side to side, stopping at each cone, and taking a swing.
As you shuffle from cone to cone focus on three key areas;
- Stay on the balls of your feet.
- Stay balanced
- Stop moving before you take a swing.
Once you’re comfortable with that, have a friend stand at the non-volley zone and toss balls toward the cones. Alternate hitting forehands and backhands as you shuffle side to side. Again you’re trying to make sure that you are on the balls of your feet, you’re balanced, and you’re stopping your motion before your swing.
If you find that difficult to do consistently stay there and master the movement. If that’s not challenging your pickleball footwork try a figure 8.
Using the same setup, start at the centerline. Move to the side of the cone to hit a forehand, stopping to make the swing somewhere near the cone. Then shuffle around the cone back toward the centerline. Continue moving toward the other cone to hit a backhand, circle around the cone, back to the centerline on the baseline. The pattern should look like an 8.
Every time you move, focus on staying on the balls of your feet, remaining balanced, and stopping before taking your swing.
If my explanation wasn’t clear, make sure to watch the video at the top of the page.
If you’d like to learn more about proper footwork, click here. This video series will help you get more consistent by moving better around the court.
What do you do to improve your pickleball footwork? Leave a comment below.
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)