Thursday, May 13, 2021

One Small Step 

Coach Wayne’s Corner


It is one of the most famous and well-known quotes in history, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” 

So how in the heck does this phrase relate to pickleball? 

The biggest problem that the majority of beginner players have with correctly executing a backhand is being off balance from having their steps out of proper sequence when striking the ball. 

The root of the problem comes from stepping with the wrong foot first. Whether we are right or left-handed, we naturally tend to step with our dominant foot first.  

I will explain this as a righthanded person: 

Pickleball players, who are not converted tennis players and have not had any training in hitting backhands, often make the mistake of moving to their left, taking one gigantic step, using their right foot first. 

However, instead of taking one giant leap with our right foot, we need to take one small step with your left foot. This first step now gets us in the correct sequence of stepping left foot, right foot as we set up to hit a backhand. 

Here is a simple drill that I call the “Two Step,” which can help you program yourself to step to your backhand side with your left foot first. 

Take some chalk and draw a square on the ground approximately 2’ by 2,’ stand in the box and alternate stepping in and out of the box going left and right, always stepping with your outside foot first.  

Make sure you are up on your toes and are aware of your upper and lower body being equally balanced as you move. 

Like learning the two step and staying in step when dancing, this drill will get you and your feet in proper timing and rhythm for executing a backhand. 

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, or by phone or text at 239-450-6161. 

Photo by Wayne Clark | Juniors tennis player, Reese McLaughlin, programming her footwork with my “two step” drill.

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