6 Best Exercises to Improve Your Pickleball Game

You need some special exercises to help you get better at pickleball! (Image via Unsplash/Joan Azeka)
You need some special exercises to help you get better at pickleball! (Image via Unsplash/Joan Azeka)

If you're a pickleball player, chances are you've heard of the importance of strength training exercises to stay fit and healthy. Exercising for strength can greatly benefit your pickleball game. Why? Greater strength will allow you to put more power behind your shots, along with other invaluable advantages. So what are some specific exercises for pickleball enthusiasts? Well, today we'll look at six exercises that will help improve your game by increasing strength, endurance, and flexibility.

Best Exercises to Get Better at Pickleball

Pickleball is a fun and low-impact sport that is especially good for keeping a good range of motion. These exercises are geared toward enhancing your flexibility through increased strength.

1. Dead Bugs

Dead bugs are a great way to build your core strength and improve your balance.

Here's how you should do it:

  • Lie on the floor with knees bent and feet flat.
  • Lift one arm off the floor while extending the other arm straight out in front of you.
  • Keep both arms straight as you raise them slightly above your head until they're parallel to the floor, then lower them back down again. Repeat this movement on both sides 10 times each.

The goal is to keep your torso as still as possible while performing this exercise: if you can manage that, then it will make it much harder for the opponent to hit their pickleball over the net!


2. Squat-to-Overhead Press with Medicine Ball

The squat-to-overhead press with a medicine ball is a great exercise to improve your pickleball game. This movement trains you to handle high lobs and stay low in your stance, which will allow you to hit better drives, and block or hit short shots.

Here's how you should do it:

  • Start in a squat position with the medicine ball at chest height and hold it in both hands.
  • Stand up, then press overhead and repeat for 10 reps before switching sides (right/left).
  • Perform 3 sets of 10 reps on each side per workout session for best results!


3. One-Legged RDL with Medicine Ball

RDLs are quite intense and rewarding as they are, but you can jazz them up with one simple trick: just use one leg at a time. This unilateral exercise allows you to exercise each leg rather than using them together while performing the movement.

Here's how you should do it:

  • Set up a bench or a box in front of you and hold a medicine ball with both hands at chest height.
  • Step back with your right foot, lowering into a bent-over position at the hips (keeping weight over your heels), keeping your core engaged and knees slightly bent as you descend until they're just above 90 degrees, then squeeze your glutes and push through the heels to return to the starting position. That's one rep; do 10 reps on each side.
  • Rest 60 seconds between sets; 3 sets at a time is all it takes!

This exercise targets multiple muscles, including hamstrings, glutes, and quads—it even works for core stability! Balance is crucial in pickleball because players are often running around trying not to get hit by balls coming from unexpected directions; regularly practicing this exercise gives you good control over your balance to duck the balls well.


4. Lunge with Medicine Ball

Lunges with a medicine ball work toward greater lower body strength. This certainly helps when you're on the court as you'll have the legs to run faster, coupled with core stability to help you serve and return shots more efficiently.

Here's how you should do it:

  • Hold a medicine ball with both hands.
  • Step forward with one leg and lower your body until your front knee is bent at 90 degrees. Keep your back knee straight and don’t let it drop toward the floor.
  • Hold that position for a few seconds before returning to the start position and repeating with the other leg.


5. Push-Up with Shoulder Tap

The push-up with a shoulder tap is an excellent exercise for your chest, arms, and abs. This exercise can also help improve your pickleball game by increasing the strength in your shoulders and triceps.

Here's how you should do it:

  • Start in a prone position on the floor with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Make sure to keep elbows close to the body. The feet should be hip-width apart or wider.
  • Keep your body straight, and your chest parallel to the floor.
  • Push yourself up as you would regularly. However, don't stop there.
  • When up, bring your left arm over to your right shoulder and hold for 2-3 seconds, no longer than a quick tap.
  • Repeat with the opposite arm and go down for another push-up.


6. Side-to-Side Shuffle

This exercise is essential to increase flexibility in the hip area and prevents your spine from extreme pressure.

  • Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and step forward with your left foot, sliding the disc out in front of you.
  • Step back with your right foot, sliding the disc to your right side (you can also do this move going backward).
  • Step forward with your left foot (or backward if you’re doing it backward), sliding the disc back to its original position.


Fitness Matters for Pickleball

Pickleball is a fast-paced game, and to be good at it, you need to maintain a relatively high level of fitness. However, the merits of fitness don't stop with expertise in pickleball. Being fit is important for a number of other reasons. First, it protects you from conditions like obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. It improves your immunity. Finally, it's great for your mental well-being.

If you want to play the sport more effectively and stay healthy at the same time, then it’s vital that you keep up with your fitness routine. These exercises will give you everything you need to get better at pickleball!

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Edited by Ramaa Kishore
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