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How to improve your hip mobility in pickleball


By Connor Derrickson

on Nov 29, 2023

Improving your hip mobility can prepare you for lateral movements on the pickleball court

Although practicing your third shot drop and serves can help you win some rallies, there’s another, often-overlooked component to the game: hip mobility. 

You want to be functional and mobile in your hips because it’s important to be able to rotate and move well, whether you’re at the kitchen line or baseline. Training your hips for mobility will help you win both on and off the court.

In this Selkirk TV Original, join professional pickleball performance coach Connor Derrickson as he walks you through a variety of movements to help improve the rotation of your hips. 

Types of hip rotation

Before strengthening your hips, it’s important to note the two types of hip rotation. 

The first is internal rotation, in which your femur turns toward the middle of your body. For example, if you pick up your leg and turn your knee toward your other knee, your hip will rotate internally. 

The second is external rotation, in which your femur turns away from your body. Again, pick up your leg and rotate your knee away from the body. This causes your hip to rotate externally. 

Being mobile in your hips is important because you use both internal and external rotation while performing the lateral steps that are necessary to succeed in pickleball. 

How to perform a 90-90 hip shift

The first move to improve basic hip mobility is a 90-90 hip shift. Start seated on the ground with your knees bent and feet touching the floor in front of you. 

With your arms touching the ground behind you for support, drop both knees to your left. Each leg should create a 90-degree angle, lowering as far as your hips allow. Your left leg should be externally rotated while your right is internally rotated. 

Now, slowly shift your hips to the right. Lead with your right leg, keeping your left on the ground until you can’t move the right one anymore. Then, allow your left leg to follow and finish the motion, ending with both legs bent at a 90-degree angle facing the right. 

Repeat the motion back and forth, leading with whatever leg is on the side you are turning toward. 

How to progress through the 90-90 hip shift

Once you feel comfortable performing the basic 90-90 hip shift, there are several professions to work through to further improve your hip mobility. 

For the first progression, grab a resistance band or bath towel. Wrap it around a pole or sturdy object — or have a friend hold the other end — at your chest height. While pulling yourself to a more upright position, complete the same 90-90 hip shift. You should feel a deeper rotation because you are no longer leaning backward. 

When you feel you’ve mastered the first progression, it’s time to drop your resistance band or towel. Starting from your seated position, hold your arms straight out in front of you and squeeze your fists as tight as you can to create tension. Perform the 90-90 hip shift while maintaining an upright posture. 

Now it’s time to add weight. Grab a kettlebell or dumbbell and hold it close to your body in front of your chest. Perform the 90-90 hip shift, keeping your posture upright.  

Once you’ve reached this stage, you should be proficient in the pattern — so it’s time to shake it up! 

Adding a lift to your 90-90 hip shift

You are now strong enough to add an internally rotated lift to the pattern. To do so, start from your seated position with your arms out in front of you. Slowly rotate to the left to perform your 90-90 hip shift. As you complete the motion, drive your right knee into the ground to lift your right foot into the air. 

Your foot doesn’t have to lift far, just a few inches off the ground, but keep your foot flexed so your toes are pointed straight ahead. Hold your foot up for three seconds and slowly lower to the ground. 

Then, complete a 90-90 hip shift to the right, driving your left knee into the ground to lift your left foot in the air. Repeat this pattern several times, moving from left to right. 

As you work your way through the progressions, take note of your performance on the court. You should see improvements in your mobility and less hip pain in your rest periods. 

Download the Selkirk TV app HERE to watch the complete episode and many other Selkirk TV original shows, podcasts, lesson series from the pros, and much more.
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