At-Home Conditioning for Great Pickleball | TheUnion.com
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At-Home Conditioning for Great Pickleball

Margee Lopez

As we progress through our second month of living with the sacrifices imposed upon us by this pandemic, most of us have found new ways to stay active and in good condition. Walking seems to be the activity of choice and our lovely golf course has seen its popularity grow by leaps and bounds. This is all well and good, but does it help us stay in condition for the rigors of pickleball? Simone Jardim is a pickleball coach and she has produced a series of videos specifically geared for this time when we are staying home. Her drills involve having a flat wall and smooth concrete area at your feet for wall drills which will be more detailed below.

In addition, she devises a taped off design of a series of connecting squares. This ladder-type formation is 15 feet long and each box measures 18”x20”. This becomes an excellent tool for drills in footwork which is vital to good pickleball playing. Some examples are moving through the ladder swiftly putting first one foot in each box and then repeating with one and then two feet. Working your feet in a sideways twist leading with your dominant foot and then repeating in reverse. The variety is endless as to how to work these ladder drills that improve quick and agile footwork.

When working with the wall, a tape line is needed to designate the net line and two boxes to the right and left of center are taped off to provide targets for the drills. In addition the NVZ line is taped off 7’ from the wall. With all that prep finished, you are ready for some serious practice hitting the ball. Both forehand and backhand volley shots (no bounce) are beneficial to practice and Simone recommends doing it successfully 50x each. A soft grip allows you to absorb the pace of the ball which can be too fast if you hit it too hard. A variety of styles that have you practicing both forehand and backhand in a type of figure eight on the wall is a good challenge and enhances your eye-hand coordination as well as reflexes. Next you can practice the dink shot by hitting it at the tape line and letting it bounce before hitting it again. Consistency and precision are key to completing the 50 strokes. If noise is a factor, it’s OK to use a foam ball for these drills. The neighbors might thank you for it!

If you are fortunate to have a portable net, you can set it up a few feet from the wall to practice your 3rd shot drop. Having lots of balls is important to do this drill.

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First you need to hit a hard ground stroke against the wall and then make the next stroke a light arc to land as a drop shot over the net. Simone suggests that we all try to work with our non-dominant hand occassionally,as it actually increases the brain stimulus in the dominant side.

Mirror drills are another indoor alternative. You act as if a ball is coming your way and you work on block volleys, punch volleys both in forehand and backhand strokes. This entails moving your knees and moving the paddle from ready position to simulate the stroke. Put away volleys are not slams but shots that start shoulder high with a rotating body and a nice compact stroke downward. The weight shifts and the shoulders twist as you execute the put away volley. Precision is more important than power The mirror aspect is to be able to see yourself and monitor your form.

Any type of exercises that works the core is very beneficial and will increase your strength, agility and stamina. The importance of staying in condition is to prevent injuries and enhance your play. Stay healthy as we survive this pandemic and keep active in every way possible.


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