Two signs you have awful footwork

Two signs you have awful footwork

Summer Skill Series: Footwork

Have you ever played pickleball with a senior citizen who moves slower than LA traffic yet they manage to get to every ball? (Props to you if you are that senior citizen.) The secret isn’t in their gray hair, where wisdom is stored. The secret is in their feet. 

From the 16-year-old Anna Leigh Waters to the 76-year-old open play champion at your local court, every dominant pickleball player has impeccable footwork. 

The good news is footwork is much easier to develop than speed. You don’t have to run a fast 40-yard-dash to play your best pickleball. But you do have to develop quick and intentional feet. And that’s something we can all get better at.

Two signs you have awful footwork

1. You make a lot of theatrical shots

If you’re running circles on the court, making circus shots every game, then you probably have bad footwork. Bad footwork leads to you being out of position, which forces you to rely on speed, athleticism, and desperation to get to every ball. 

Good footwork leads to simpler shot selection, where you run less. Because good footwork puts you in ideal positioning before and after every shot. You’ll rarely see the best pickleball players like Ben and Colin Johns frantically running all over the court. They’re as cool as cucumbers (which is just a pickle that hasn’t been pickled). 

2. You cross your feet

For the most part, you should avoid crossing your feet on the pickleball court. Hitting a pickleball with the proper power and placement is already hard. Doing it off balance makes it 10X harder for you. 

When you cross your feet, you’re leaving yourself exposed for the next shot. It turns your body away from the net and takes up too much time for you to reorient your body. You should have your feet facing toward the net so you can move freely and defend better. Rather than crossing your feet, shuffle them.

Two drills to develop great footwork

1. Crab walk

You can get better at shuffling your feet by crab walking. You don’t even need a court, paddle, or ball. Practice getting low and moving side-to-side. It’s also a fantastic way to warm up before you play. 

2. Clockwork lunge drill

YouTuber and professional pickler John Cincola suggests you practice lunging in every direction. 
Here’s the key for this drill: practice lunging with your outside foot. This gives you that extra reach and stability, while ensuring you don’t cross your feet.

When it comes to lunge directions, think of a clock on the ground, where you lunge to 12 straight ahead, then one, two, etc. You can start this drill without a ball or paddle. Then once you make it a few times around the clock, incorporate a ball by bouncing it off a wall, lunging toward it, and catching it with your hand. By not having a paddle, you’re better able to focus on your footwork rather than your swing.