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Why aerobic fitness is important for pickleball and how to improve yours


By Connor Derrickson

on Jan 05, 2024

Pickleball strength training coach Connor Derickson gives tips for improving your anaerobic system

Often in pickleball, points are over relatively quickly, with an average of about 10 shots per rally. So many may think the points aren’t taxing on the body. 

However, within those 10 shots, players must be able to sprint, lunge, and jump within quick succession. That’s why it’s important to properly condition your body for such exercises. 

Conditioning comes down to two main systems, aerobic and anaerobic systems. While a strong aerobic system allows you to perform activities for a long period, a healthy anaerobic system will allow you to perform movements requiring short bursts of intense energy. 

Because of the quick pace of play, you will often rely heavily on your anaerobic system to perform in pickleball. For example, you may use a quick burst of energy to hit a deep serve and crash the net, before winning a point and taking a short rest period as you prepare for the next point. 

In this Selkirk TV Original, join professional pickleball performance coach Connor Derrickson as he shares several exercises to increase your anaerobic fitness for pickleball. 

How to improve your aerobic fitness

To train your anaerobic fitness specifically for pickleball, you need to consider two styles of anaerobic training. 

The first includes 10-15 second interval training where you are giving maximum effort. The second is a crowd favorite: sprints. You’ll give your maximum effort for 5-10 seconds before resting. 

Try adding the following exercises to your routine to improve your on-court fitness. Remember: you are supposed to be giving your maximum effort on every repetition, so take the time to fully recover in between each repetition.

Move 1: Sideline and centerline sprints

Head to one sideline of the kitchen line and face the court. Once you are mentally prepared, sprint to the other sideline, turn around and sprint back. Then, turn around and repeat. You should have sprinted from sideline to sideline twice. 

Once you have done that, turn around and sprint to the center line before turning around and returning to the sideline. Repeat this motion. 

Your pattern should be the following: 

  • Starting sideline to opposite sideline
  • Opposite sideline to starting sideline
  • Starting sideline to opposite sideline
  • Opposite sideline to starting sideline
  • Starting sideline to centerline
  • Centerline to starting sideline
  • Starting sideline to centerline
  • Centerline to starting sideline
  • Rest to full recovery

Complete 2-3 reps of 3-4 sets of the sprints, making sure to recover fully in between each set. 

Move 2: Sideline sprints

To train your body for the quickest burst of energy, it’s time to do full-out sideline sprints. Start at one sideline, sprint to the other, turn around, and spring back. That’s it!

Just remember to push yourself to run as fast as you possibly can. Then, take a full recovery break. Complete 2-3 reps of 3-4 sets of the sprints. 

Move 3: Kneeling sprint

Again, stand on one sideline at the kitchen line, but this time, face the baseline. Kneel down with your right knee touching the baseline and your left foot just outside the baseline. 

Lean forward slightly to push most of your weight in your left foot. Drive your weight into your left foot to stand. As you come to a standing position, rotate to face the opposite sideline and sprint toward it. Then return to your starting sideline. 

Complete 2-3 reps of 3-4 sets of the sprints with one leg kneeling. Then head to the opposite baseline and repeat with your other leg kneeling. 

Be sure to check out Connor’s tips for improving your aerobic fitness. 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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