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  • Writer's pictureSerendipityPTW

Pickleball - Positioning For Attacks at Your Feet



As you work your way up the ranks in pickleball, you’ll find that both you and your opponents will seek out opportunities to attack the feet with the ball. It’s an effective way to keep a player back, and also increases the likelihood of forcing someone to make an error.


In an ideal world, you want to minimize how often your opponents can get a good shot at your feet, but errors (both forced and unforced) will always happen regardless of who you are and how good you get.


Attacks at the feet are difficult to return, and become more challenging as increasingly skillful opponents have better precision and technique, but the sooner you master the proper body mechanics and methods for returning these shots, the easier your pickleball journey will become!


At the 3.0 and 3.5 level, it’s all too common for people to reach for foot shots by bending their low back. It’s…not often a very successful maneuver.


With the player’s whole torso moving to bend down, there are just too many moving parts to return the ball with ideal control - a popped return is likely even if the ball is retrieved. If the back-bender does get a successful return, they’ll still be in a very disadvantaged situation, having to quickly try to get back into their fully upright paddle ready position in time to prepare for what’s coming.


The best way to get foot shots?


A squat.


When the ball is coming hard and fast at your feet, the squat is the most ideal position to put yourself in. The wider stance will optimize your stability, and with your legs doing all the work, you’ll be freed up to position your paddle as needed to get the reset shot you’re likely trying to make.


If you aren’t used to doing a deeper squat to get shots at your feet, it can be tougher than it sounds! People who are accustomed to overusing their spines tend to have difficulty changing the habit. However, for the sake of improving your game (and minimizing the likelihood of hurting your back), it’s worth the time and effort!


As is the key with everything in pickleball, the solution is to practice, practice, practice! Just remember that it’s much simpler to form new habits when doing drills as opposed to in a standard game! Drills allow you to do a lot more repetitions, and there’s a lot less chaos that can undermine the learning process.


Can’t squat?


A lot of different things can make a person have difficulty squatting. This can include limited ankle mobility, decreased hip strength, limited knee control, old habits, arthritic changes anywhere throughout the lower legs, and assorted aches and pains of the lower body. That’s not an exhaustive list!


As a doctor of physical therapy who specializes in working with pickleball players, the above problems are all things that I’m qualified to help players with. So if you’re trying to get the squat, or some other movement pattern down, and are running into difficulties, don't hesitate to reach out to me!


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As the owner of Serendipity Physical Therapy and Wellness, I’m an avid pickleball addict in Naples, Florida, with a goal of keeping pickleball players moving at their best and injury free. I work with players for anything ranging from reducing various pains, weakness, or tightness, to helping with injury prevention, proper conditioning, and good technique.

If you’re new, you can check out more of my advice and content here: https://www.serendipityptw.com/blog.

If there is anything I can help you with or you have questions, please give me a call at (239) 232-8155, or send me an email at Contact@SerendipityPTW.com. I would love to see how I can help get you moving at your best!


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