One aspect of your pickleball game that you might be overlooking is improving your overall balance while on the court. Maintaining a stable, athletic position while moving through a backhand or forehand swing is one of the most important parts of ensuring your control during a shot.
We all like to score in pickleball. More particularly, we like to score off a clutch shot that we intentionally made. There’s nothing quite like driving the ball down the middle, realizing it’s going exactly where you want it to between your opponents, and earning yourself the point. Well, a big part of nailing those targeted shots is keeping your balance throughout the entire motion of your swing.
For example, if you’re leaning too far forward or too far back on your return, you might be running into issues with sending the ball right into the net or driving it too far out of bounds. Where your body is positioned and how you’re able to maintain that position are the first part of directing your shot’s trajectory. If you can’t be consistent with your balance, you will never be consistent with shot accuracy.
So, how do you improve your balance? What training methods help ensure you stay in an intentional athletic position while swinging through your shots? Here are a few of our favorite ways of improving one’s balance while on the pickleball court!
Before we get into some great exercises while you’re at the gym, I think it’s important to point out paddleboarding as a fantastic and fun way to train your sense of balance naturally. One of the reasons we partnered with iROCKER SUP Paddle Boards is because of how much we love training in the outdoors and how effective paddleboarding can be on conditioning a wide variety of muscle groups.
When you’re out on the water, balance is inherent to the action of paddleboarding. Simply standing on the board requires a significant amount of focus and intention with your body’s placement. Before you even start moving the board forward with paddle movements, you need to be locked in with your sense of balance while on the board.
As our personal trainer Brady demonstrates, standing on a paddleboard is remarkably similar to standing on a balance at the gym. It often forces your sense of balance to take center stage while doing other stretches or lifts. This translates directly to pickleball, where you always need to stay balanced but also have to move your upper body while swinging the paddle at the same time.
We know everyone adventures differently, and we’re excited to deliver a customized experience designed to fit your unique SUP style! Start with the basic package—your board, fins, and repair kit—then, select the adventure essentials you need to customize and complete your perfect SUP bundle.
Single-Leg Mini Banded Half Circles
This exercise is a mouthful, but it’s quite simple once you start doing it! You only need a mini resistance band, attach it around your ankles, and get moving.
Before jumping into this workout, we recommend getting used to standing on one leg. Being able to stand on one leg is critical for finding success in any balance training, so definitely spend some time warming up by standing and stretching while on one leg.
- Stand with a mini-band around both of your ankles and raise one foot off the ground.
- Keeping the raised leg straight, move the entire leg in a half-circle motion around your body, starting from the front and moving to the back.
- From this position, with your raised leg at the back of your body, slowly move it in a half-circle position back to the front.
- Repeat this motion back and forth for a total of 8-10 reps, 3 sets for each leg.
Bird Dog Row
Bird dog rows are one of the best workouts for building a better sense of balance throughout your entire body. We typically associate balance with lower body strength, but the upper body needs to work in tandem with your lower body to achieve balance during motion.
Striking that balance between upper and lower body strength makes bird dog rows so powerful for your pickleball game. If the added weight of the rows is too much right now, simply do classic bird dogs instead and work your way up to naturally adding the row back into the exercise.
- From a kneeling position on a bench with your arms also touching the bench, similar to that of a standard kneeling bent-over row, take a kettlebell in one hand.
- Kick back the leg on the opposite side of your body from the kettlebell. For example, if your left arm is holding the kettlebell, then your right leg moves back.
- In this position, move the kettlebell up and downwards in a rowing motion. It’s important to maintain your stable platform while doing the row, so make sure to use a kettlebell with a weight that works best for keeping good form.
- Do rows in sets of about 8-10 reps, with a total of about 3 sets for each side of your body.
Banded Hip Airplanes
Banded hip airplanes are excellent for glute control and dynamic hip mobility, which are integral to setting a foundation for your balance. Again, as another one-leg standing exercise, these are top-tier when it comes to building on-court balance!
Use a dowel or staff to help with balance if necessary. You can even do these while warming up before a match, using a bench or fence as an anchor when possible.
- Put a medium resistance band around your thighs, just above the knees.
- Using a dowel to help with balance if necessary, bend your knees slightly and stand on one foot.
- Hinge at the hip, bend forward slightly and try to open your thigh outward. Keep the leg you’re standing on firmly set on the ground, and don’t let your knee collapse with the pull of the band.
- Bring your thigh slowly back inward to the starting position, and repeat for a total of 8-10 reps. 3 sets total for each leg.
About Our Sponsor
iROCKER – LIVE YOUR LIFE ON THE WATER™
iROCKER is dedicated to crafting the highest quality paddle boards and outdoor gear on the market. As pickleball players, we’re often geared toward trying to find the best way of improving ourselves on the court, and it can be difficult at times to draw parallels to activities outside of that environment that can also impact your game.
We’ve found that paddle boarding contains a lot of similar health benefits to pickleball, from creating fulfilling social environments to improving your strength and balance through physical activity. iROCKER’s paddle boards offer pickleball players the perfect off-court activity for enjoying the outdoors and staying healthy. Check out their website for more information.
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