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Improving your strength and flexibility for pickleball


By Dustin Davis

on Jan 05, 2024

Certified trainer Dustin Davis teaches best pickleball strengthening exercises

When on the pickleball court, you need to be flexible to make those hard-to-reach shots. But you also need to have the strength in your muscles to use your flexibility. 

In this new Selkirk TV episode, Certified Teaching Pro & NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist Dustin Davis shares a few key strengthening exercises to help maintain a healthy muscular system while playing pickleball. 

Which muscles should I strengthen for pickleball? 

While having an overall healthy body is important for maintaining an active lifestyle, there are a few key muscle groups you should strengthen for pickleball performance. 

A main muscle group to improve is your glutes and hamstrings, which will enable you to get low at the kitchen line and lunge for balls with ease. Next, you want to ensure you have a strong back so you can reach for low balls without rounding your back. Finally, you need to strengthen your hips so you can perform lateral movements.

Strengthening and stretching these muscle groups regularly will help you avoid injury and spend more time on the court. 

Move 1: Using a yoga ball to strengthen your hamstrings and glutes

Grab your yoga ball and lay flat on your back. Lift both your legs to place your heels in the center of the yoga ball. With your palms pressed on the floor for stability, lift your hips up, ensuring your core is tight. 

Then, roll the ball toward your glutes as you press into your heels. Then roll the ball away from you until your legs are fully extended. Keep your hips in the air as you repeat the motion for 15 to 20 repetitions. 

Move 2: Glute bridges with a yoga ball

This move can be performed in a circuit with Move 1, meaning you can alternate between the two to complete a set. 

Start by sitting on top of the yoga ball with your feet planted on the floor. Slowly begin to roll forward until your shoulder blades are the only portion of your body resting on the ball. You can bring your arms behind your head to grip the ball for support if needed. 

Slowly lower your hips to the ground, keeping them close to the yoga ball. Squeeze your glutes to push through your heels to raise your hips back up to level. 

When just starting this motion, you may feel the exercise more deeply in your quads — focus on squeezing your glutes and using this muscle group to complete the motion. If your back is hurting on the pickleball court, it’s likely because your glutes aren’t firing up properly. 

As you progress through the motion, try lifting your right leg straight out in front of you. Continue performing the motion while just using your left leg to push up. 

Using a yoga ball for a one-legged bridge can be challenging, so you can also complete the motion on the edge of your couch. Complete 15-20 repetitions of each type of glute bridge. 

Move 3: Good Mornings on the yoga ball

Sit on top of your yoga ball with your feet in a wide stance. Grab a light set of weights, or even a can of soup, and hold it in between your legs. 

Hinge at your hips and lean forward, dropping your weights to the ground. Ensuring your back is straight, slowly raise to sitting. 

This exercise helps you improve your posture and learn how to reach toward the ground without rounding your back. You should also be flexible enough in your hips to hinge forward without pain. 

Using a light set of weights allows you to complete a higher repetition count. Complete as many repetitions as you can without losing your form. 

Move 4: Single-leg squat using a chair

Finally, you need to strengthen the internal aspects of your hips so that you can perform all the lateral movements that are key to pickleball. 

Stand by a low chair or couch. Raise your right light to your side and place it on the chair. Hold your light weights at your hips. 

Slowly squat, lowering your weights to the ground. Make sure that your knee doesn’t go past your toes or cheat in toward your hands. Squeeze your glutes and push through your heel to stand up. Again, make sure your back remains straight as you complete the motion. 

Complete 12-15 repetitions on each leg. 

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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