Getting to the kitchen line is one thing; performing at the kitchen line is another. Most players know that after a serve or return, the best thing to do is rush to the kitchen line to get an edge on the opponent.
However, once you split-step into a set athletic position behind the kitchen line, your game can fall apart quickly if you can’t set the tone with the third and fourth shots. So, let’s address three critical factors of playing at the kitchen line and go through a few exercises that could help you out!
Slider Squats – Improving Range
As Brady demonstrates in the video above, slider squats are an easy and effective workout for building lower-body strength and improving your ability to stretch further horizontally. If an opponent wants to hit a sneaky drop shot to the other side of the court, being able to stretch out and catch those shots with confidence is vital.
The other benefit of sliding squats is that it mimics the motion of stepping out into those types of shots. Whether it be a quick forehand dink to your strong side or a reaching backhand to the other side of your body, you need to be able to go wide with your lower body stance.
- From an athletic position, with your feet at shoulder-width apart, place one foot on the slider.
- Using the foot with the slider as the lead, slide that foot horizontally, with the rest of your body following into it in a squatting stance. Think of your other foot as an anchor for this exercise, as it will remain in place as you move in the other direction.
- After fully squatting on the slider foot, slowly move back to the starting position.
- Repeat for 5-8 reps for each side of your body, with a total of 3 sets per side.
Single-Arm Deadlift – Building Strength and Stability
Single-arm deadlifts are designed to increase strength and stability throughout your entire body, as upper body, lower body, and core muscles are vital to executing this exercise. You’re doing single arms instead of both arms because it requires a more concentrated effort, using various stabilizing muscles that mimic the lower body stability needed on the pickleball court.
You can do this exercise with either a dumbbell or a full-sized barbell, though a barbell will add extra balancing/stabilizing.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your feet pointing forward and shins against the barbell.
- Bending your knees slightly, reach down and grab the barbell with one hand using an overhand grip.
- Slowly lift the bar by pushing your chest and hips forward while extending your knees to a standing position. Hold this position for a second.
- Bend your knees and slowly lower the bar back to the starting position. Switch arms, and repeat.
- Depending on the weight, do 5-8 reps for each side, with a total of 3-4 sets per side.
Single-Arm Band Row – Creating Faster Hands
It’s hard to think of a better unilateral arm exercise for improving shot strength and speed! Single-arm band rows are one of our favorites because they improve muscle groups associated with backhand and forehand shots that are so vital to playing at the kitchen, such as posterior shoulder muscles, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, and biceps.
Another benefit to band rows is that they’re simple in form and can be formed anywhere as long as you have an exercise band with you. While we recommend performing them from a standing athletic position to emulate how you’d stand while on the court, you can start with seated rows if that is more comfortable initially.
- Anchor the exercise band to a post at about chest height.
- Grab the other end of the band in one hand and take a couple of steps back so that there is no slack to the band.
- With your knees bent, standing in an upright position, pull the band backwards, bringing your hand to your chest.
- Extend your arm, returning to the starting position. Repeat for 10-15 reps and then switch sides, for a total of 3 sets per side.
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