I remember learning how to ice skate as a kid. At first, I tried to kind of walk like I would if I were wearing sneakers on a concrete surface. However, I quickly discovered that to prevent myself from continually falling on my butt I needed to pay a lot more attention to the coordination as well as the balance of my upper and lower body and create an overall lower center of gravity. I also realized that I needed to be taking long gliding steps and keep my feet close to the ground/ice.
I frequently see players new to the sport of both pickleball and tennis finding themselves off–balance from being what I refer to as “top–heavy.” What I mean by that is they have too much weight distributed above the waist. And just like falling on ice skates, this top-heavy balance is usually caused from their feet being too close together, which distributes more weight above the waist than below the waist.
In a sport like pickleball, due to the fact that the plastic ball does not come up off the court like a tennis ball with heavy topspin, players are dealing with a point of contact which is at a lower level in relation to our upper and lower body.
The lower bounce and point of contact can cause issues if you are standing too upright (aka top–heavy).
The need to get down to the lower level of the bounce of the ball requires us the need to have a lower distribution of our weight, creating an overall lower center of gravity.
In the sport of pickleball, having a low center of gravity is especially important regarding our movement in and around the no volley zone, because covering this area of the court requires a lot of lateral movement.
So, in order to effectively and efficiently move laterally to contact the ball—just like a hockey goalie blocking a slap shot—we need to be low to the ground and take long gliding steps. Moving in this manner will allow you to get to more balls and win more points.
Wayne Clark is a professional tennis instructor with over 25 years’ experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction and is on staff as an instructor with The Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida at East Naples Community Park. Contact Coach Wayne by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by or by phone or text at 239-450-6161.