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Unleashing Thoracic Mobility: The Key to a Stronger Pickleball Game - Pickleball Strength Training on SelkirkTV


By Connor Derrickson

on Nov 19, 2023

In the dynamic world of pickleball, players often focus on agility, strategy, and stroke technique. However, an often overlooked but crucial component to peak performance is thoracic mobility. In the latest YouTube video from SelkirkTV, Connor Derrickson emphasizes the significance of this key aspect of fitness, demonstrating exercises to enhance flexibility and reduce injury risk. Let's dive into how you can elevate your game by incorporating thoracic mobility into your routine.

Why Thoracic Mobility Matters in Pickleball

Thoracic mobility refers to the flexibility of the middle section of your spine, which is essential for maintaining good form and ensuring a wide range of motion. In pickleball, this mobility allows for smooth transitions and powerful strokes, even when the ball doesn’t land exactly where you expect it to. As Connor points out, "Thoracic spine mobility... that's the part of your spine in the middle of your back, not the upper or lower back."

Exercise 1: Assessing and Improving Mobility with Rotations

Connor introduces a simple yet effective exercise to assess and improve your thoracic rotation. "The first scenario is a backhand dink that kind of gets behind you and you have to reach... You need thoracic mobility to be able to do that," he explains.

The exercise begins with the demonstrator on their knees, sitting back on their heels with forearms touching and placed on the ground. By placing one hand on the lower back and rotating the torso, players can assess their own mobility. Connor suggests looking for a rotation past 45 degrees to indicate good mobility.

To advance this exercise, Connor recommends using a resistance band to encourage further rotation. "Exhale as you rotate," he advises, emphasizing the role of breathing in achieving optimal rotation.

Exercise 2: The Frog Position for Sideways Rotation

The second exercise moves from assessing mobility to actively improving it. The frog position—hands on the ground, knees wide, and feet outside the hips—facilitates a deeper thoracic rotation. By threading one arm through to the opposite side and exhaling, players can effectively rotate their spine.

Breathing plays a vital role here, as Connor notes, "Our breath helps us to rotate well as it lowers our ribcage." He recommends 6-8 reps per side to achieve the best results, with the potential added benefit of relieving tension in the back.

Integrating Mobility Work Into Your Routine

These exercises are not just about improving your current game but also about investing in your long-term health and ability to play. Regularly practicing these movements can lead to significant improvements in your range of motion, allowing you to reach and return shots with ease and less risk of injury.

Thoracic mobility is a foundational aspect of a strong pickleball player. As you work to implement these exercises from SelkirkTV's Connor Derrickson into your training regimen, remember that mobility is as crucial as any other skill on the court. By dedicating time to improve your thoracic mobility, you are setting yourself up for a more powerful, precise, and sustainable game.

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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