We're back in the John Cincola pickleball lab for another pro tip. This week, it's the magic footwork required to move like a pro.
Cincola's strategy is to work on lunges in every direction. For this drill, he set up cones in the position of numbers on a clock. He then lunges to each cone, which simulates the motion of lunging for a pickleball shot.
The neon mini field cone set makes a great addition to your training routine. Having cones in place helps to keep you honest while executing this drill.
Space the cones an equal distance from the center of the circle. Your lunge to the left should extend just as far as your lunge to the right. If you find yourself coming up short of the cones in either direction, then you have identified a potential weakness.
As you repeat the exercise, work to acheive equal extension in every direction. This will help you to move in any direction on the court. Most players will find it easier to move toward their forehand and need to develop lunges toward their backhand.
Keys to the Exercise
When executing the clock lunges, focus on these keys:
- Step with your outside foot
- Keep strong upper body posture
- Maintain control and balance
This drill helps to increase the strength and flexibility needed on the pickleball court. In the video, Cincola provides examples of pro players fielding shots from the lunge position in both singles and doubles.
Stabilize from the Ground Up
An overlooked part of pickleball is that a ton of shots are actually hit from the lunge position.
Developing strength in the lunge helps players stabilize their lower body while taking the shot. It also helps them launch back up into ready position or change direction to run down the next ball.
Next time you're on the court, take a mental note of the shots you take from the lunge position. It can be a forward lunge to reach a ball in the kitchen, or a side lunge to execute an ATP. They will start to add up.
If you're not hitting from a lunge position then you're probably not bending your knees enough. It's a crucial part of the game and mistake that most players make.
Unlike in tennis, the pickleball rarely bounces above waist height. This makes bending at the knees extremely important. Bending at the knees instead of the waist keeps your center of gravity in the center. It promtoes good form on shots and helps prevent injuries from falling down.
As Cincola points out in the video, it's vital to "keep strong upper body posture." That means using your legs to get into postion and keeping your shoulders in line with your hips.
Add the clock lunges to your routine so your quads and glutes are ready to fire. Build that steady base from the ground up.
More Ways to Build Strength
Lunges are not the only way to build lower body strength. Weighted squats are also an option to train for pickleball. Most people don't have room for a barbell and weight plates and a sqaut rack.
A good alternative is the medicine ball. Rhino Pickleball has medicine balls in a wide variety of weights. Using a medicine ball will engage your upper body while perfoming the squat.
An added benefit is that you can bring the ball with you on the go. If you're group isn't drilling together, you need to be. Bring the medicine ball to the courts and add it as a station during your drills.
While part of the group is working on ground strokes another group can be hitting squats and building strength.
Check out Rhino Pickleball for cones, medicine balls, jump ropes and other fitness acessories to up your game.