by Phil Arinno
What does the statement, “move your feet mean”. I believe this is the most misunderstood statement made in Pickleball.
Every shot we hit in PB requires:
- Move to the ball
- Position at the right distance from the ball
- Stop moving and
- Execute the stroke
Depending where we are on the court we have anywhere from 1/4 of a second to 1.25 second to react to the ball.
In most cases it only takes 2-3 steps to get into position. After the shot is executed we will take 3-6 steps to return to a ready position.
Very important when we play, we don’t think about taking a lot of steps. We think only about getting into the perfect position and distance from the ball. So that it will be the most comfortable for us to hit it.
The Source of Confusion: Training vs Playing
You may be confused now as you know that there is situation where you should be taking a lot of small steps, but if you’ve ever tried to think about your feet while playing, you’ve surely realized that you start playing really poorly because your attention goes away from the ball.
Therefore, you don’t judge the ball well, don’t position well, and don’t time it well.
The secret to developing good footwork is that we practice the majority of footwork in isolation–meaning we don’t work on footwork while we play, but we do separate drills just for footwork.
In the first stage, we practice without the ball (and sometimes even without the paddle).
We just repeat certain footwork patterns many times, and then in the next stage we repeat those same patterns while the player is also hitting the ball.
This all happens beyond our conscious awareness. The most efficient footwork can happen only if our brain (and feet) have it at their disposal—meaning if it has been trained before.
If our brain doesn’t have a certain footwork pattern in the memory, it can’t use it.
The result is that you won’t move very efficiently and quickly. You’ll be slow to get to the ball and possibly off balance.
The only caveat is that I recommend that you should think about getting an ideal distance from the ball and aim to hit it at an ideal height for your stroke.
As you pay attention to ideal positioning to the ball, your feet will automatically keep adjusting when possible.