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3 Core Moves to Improve Your Pickleball Playing Power

3 Core Moves to Improve Your Pickleball Playing Power

  • Personal trainer Fernando Chavez shares some stellar plank variations for on-court stability and mobility.

YOUR CORE IS THE KEY to a better game, says Fernando Chavez, a personal trainer in Long Beach, California, who plays pickleball three to four times a week. “A strong core will keep you stabilized so that you can block hard-driving shots,” Chavez says. It also helps you rotate. “We use our rotating core muscles when we drive from the baseline and when we’re putting away high balls,” he explains. 

To help you generate more power when you play, Chavez created these plank variations to keep you off-balance so that you engage your middle even more. This will also help prevent lower-back injuries, since the core and the back work together when you move. 

Do the three exercises (that’s one set), and then take a one-minute break. Repeat two to three times, depending on your fitness level, with a one-minute break between each set. Perform the routine once a week at first and work your way up to doing it two to three times weekly. 

1. SIDE PLANK WITH PADDLE ROTATION

A. Lie on your left side with your legs extended and stacked from hips to feet, your left forearm on the floor, elbow lined up directly under your shoulder. Grab the paddle with your right hand and lift your hips off the floor. Extend your right arm and the paddle in the air.

B. Rotate down and reach the paddle under your torso. Raise the paddle back in the air. That’s one rep. Aim for 10 to 15 reps, then repeat on the right side.

B. Rotate down and reach the paddle under your torso. Raise the paddle back in the air. That’s one rep. Aim for 10 to 15 reps, then repeat on the right side. 

2. FOREARM PLANK PADDLE PULL-THROUGH

A. With the paddle on the left side of your body, lie on your stomach with your forearms on the floor, elbows directly below your shoulders, legs extended, and toes tucked. Press your forearms and your toes into the floor and lift your body into a straight line with your feet shoulder-width apart.

A. With the paddle on the left side of your body, lie on your stomach with your forearms on the floor, elbows directly below your shoulders, legs extended, and toes tucked. Press your forearms and your toes into the floor and lift your body into a straight line with your feet shoulder-width apart.

B. Engage your core by drawing your navel to your spine. With your right arm, reach under your body and grab the paddle.

C. Pull the paddle through to the right side. Put your right forearm back on the floor and repeat the move with your left arm. That’s one rep. Aim for 15 reps.

C. Pull the paddle through to the right side. Put your right forearm back on the floor and repeat the move with your left arm. That’s one rep. Aim for 15 reps.

3. FOREARM PLANK REACH-AND-TAP

A. With your paddle directly in front of you, lie on your stomach with your forearms on the floor, elbows directly below your shoulders, legs extended, and toes tucked. Press your forearms and your toes into the floor and lift your body into a straight line with your feet shoulder-width apart. Engage your core by drawing your navel to your spine.

B. Reach your right hand out and tap the paddle. Repeat with the left hand. That’s one rep. Aim for 15 reps.

B. Reach your right hand out and tap the paddle. Repeat with the left hand. That’s one rep. Aim for 15 reps.

MODEL: EDWARD MICHAEL FOR BELLA AGENCY. ALWRLD TEE, ALLBIRDS SHORTS.

GARY A. PATTEE, M.D. is a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and a motorcycle-racing enthusiast. 

DOC TALK : CORE STRENGTH

Orthopedic surgeon Gary A. Pattee, M.D., explains why core strength is important for everything you do on—and off—the court.

WHAT IT IS 

Your core is composed of numerous muscles, including the abdominal muscles and muscles of the lower back. They can be divided into two groups, based on function. The first is a deep stabilizing group of muscles, known as the inner-core muscles, and includes the pelvic floor, the transversus abdominis, the multifidus, and the diaphragm. The dynamic or “moving” outer-core muscle group includes such muscles as the rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and hip muscles. When they’re functioning normally and in proper coordination, the two groups help maintain spinal and pelvic stability.

WHAT IT DOES 

A strong core improves balance, enhances athletic performance, and helps limit injuries. If your core is weak, the hips may compensate for the altered mechanics when you run to hit a ball, for example, and excess strain is placed on the knees. 

Strengthening the core muscles provides balance and stability, reducing pressure across the hips and knees. In daily life, a strong core helps reduce the risk of back strain from activities like lifting groceries. As we get older, having a strong, stable core is even more important for providing stability, balance, and a healthy posture. Core-strengthening exercises can help prevent falls, decrease back pain, and increase longevity.

HOW TO MAXIMIZE IT

There is no one method of core strengthening that works for everyone. Some people follow a home program (like the moves shown above), while others prefer Pilates or yoga to improve core strength. Consult with a qualified athletic trainer who can construct a custom routine to meet your specific needs and minimize the risks of injury.

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