Pickleball is an amazing sport that is inclusive, fun, and easy to learn. But within this easy learning curve lies a problem: many players skip some essential pickleball mechanics. As a result, they may plateau or they get frustrated because it’s very difficult to progress and build on the lack of a foundation. Players also develop bad habits and bad muscle memory that hold them back from their ultimate potential.
Today I’m going to unpack four essential mechanics, walk through what they look like on the court, and share how you can implement them into your game today. With this video, it’s my hope that you learn something new that you can build on, unlock something new in your game, and just get better.
Watch the full video on pickleball mechanics here.
1. Grip Pressure
Your grip pressure is a fundamental part of all pickleball play and it’s a building block for many more advanced shots.
On a scale from 0-10 with 0 being open hand and 10 being a death grip, you want to fall within the ranges below.
- 6-9 for serves, drives, and ground strokes
- 3-4 for drops or long dinks
- 3-4 for dinks
- 3-4 for resets
If you struggle with a tight grip, one thing you could try is wrapping your pointer finger and thumb around the handle to get a feel for soft hands. It may feel strange at first, but once you dink like this, you can wrap your hand around the rest of the paddle.
2. Foot Work
How you move your feet is incredibly important in pickleball, not just for your safety, but for hitting successful shots.
One rule of thumb is “Feet first, swing second.” Basically plant your feet first and focus on your swing second. If you were to try this out of order, you may risk running through the ball, over-reaching, or throwing yourself off balance. All of these things lead to bad shots that go up or out.
A great technique for practicing feet first, swing second is called the split step. This is simply a hop that gets you into an athletic stance so that you can respond to your opponent’s shot. Anytime your opponent touches the ball when you’re in the transition zone, be sure to use the split step.
The reason we split step is to use the legs in the most explosive way possible to push us off the ground into the direction the ball is going. You’re using the ground as a spring. You can be fast from a good athletic position but you want have that “kick start” to help spring you off the ground.
3. Your Swing
The third fundamental mechanic is your swing. One great swing you can use that transfers to many more shots in pickleball is called the pendulum swing. It’s called a pendulum swing because your arm swings at the hinge of your shoulder.
Here’s how it works:
- You want your knees bent in an athletic stance
- You want to swing from low to high
- Watch the ball come to your paddle
- Hit the ball out front
- Hit the ball at its highest point
- Your arm and wrist are stable
- There isn’t a lot of back swing on this swing
A few things you want to avoid are:
- Big back swings
- Straight legs
4. The Ready Position
The last important mechanic is the ready position. When you are at the kitchen, you will want to have your paddle up in front of your body. You can have the edge guard pointing at 12 or 10. No matter what you will want to be engaged with your eye on the ball.
Good Muscle Memory vs. Bad Muscle Memory
Good pickleball mechanics are the culmination of good habits and good muscle memory on the court. This all begins with seemingly small movements. Bad muscle memory exists and if you practice bad movements, you could create bad habits that lead to unsuccessful shots.
Are you practicing good muscle memory and good habits? For example, are you warming up with the intent to get better or are you warming up without intention? Don’t sell yourself short with the time you have. When you warm up or play recreationally, play in a way that will pay off later. Practice good mechanics.
Conclusion – Important Pickleball Mechanics
So that’s it, the 4 important pickleball mechanics that every player should know. What did you think? Are there any tips or strategies I should add to the list? Let me know in the comments.
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