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How to improve your reaction time and baseline movement for pickleball


By Connor Derrickson

on Jan 11, 2024

Connor Derrickson shares reactivity drills for pickleball.

At high levels of play in pickleball, players need to be able to turn on a dime, sprint across the court, and make explosive lateral movements, particularly in singles.

That’s why it’s important for all pickleball players — but especially singles players — to master their baseline movements. These baseline movements can include sprints, reactive movements, and visual reactions. 

In this Selkirk TV Original, professional pickleball performance coach Connor Derrickson shares

Move 1: Turn and sprint

Start at the kitchen line with your body positioned right in front of the centerline. Turn to your left and sprint to the sideline. Touch the ground, turn, and sprint to the other sideline. Touch the ground and return to the centerline. 

This is a sprinting exercise, so do not make any lateral movements. Focus on changing direction quickly and sprinting as hard as you can. Repeat this 5-10 times. 

Move 2: Point and sprint

This move requires a partner, so you and your game partner can even use it as a warm-up before a match. 

One partner, who will be the pointer, should stand at the net. The other partner, who will be the sprinter, should stand where the centerline meets the kitchen line, facing their partner. 

The pointer will point to a sideline at random. The sprinter should maintain a ready position and as their partner points to a line, they will turn and sprint to that sideline, touch the ground, and turn and sprint back to the center. They will again face their partner and maintain a ready position as they wait for the next direction. 

This drill helps train your sprinting abilities, but also your reactivity. Focus on limiting the time it takes to react to your partner’s direction. Complete 5-10 sprints in a row before trading positions. 

Move 3: Color sprints

Once you’ve mastered the point and sprint drill, it’s time to crank up the reactivity training. Assign each sideline a color. You may set two different colored items on the sidelines for help if you wish. 

Start in the same positions as the point and sprint drill. The partner who is not sprinting will yell out a color and the sprinting partner will then sprint to that sideline, touch the ground, and sprint back to the middle. 

This drill will help train your quick-thinking ability for games. Pickleball points move quickly, and you need to be able to make split-second decisions. Focus on taking off as quickly as you can after your partner tells you the color. 

Repeat 5-10 repetitions and then switch positions. 

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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