In terms of playing a backhand shot in pickleball, you will find that your strikes may not be as consistent as when you are playing a forehand. And therefore, we want to be in the best possible stance when we take the shot (if we have to – if you are able, rather play the ball with your forehand). But here comes the question, which foot should we be on when hitting the backhand?
With the backhand shot in pickleball, you want to be on your front foot when playing the ball. It is not always simple, though; you need to align your feet correctly and have them facing the side of the court. You will then shuffle to get behind the ball and then step forward and strike the ball.
The game of pickleball has a variety of ages, genders, and skill levels playing, but at the end of the day, if you are a skilled player or new to the game, you are likely always wanting to better your performance. Thus, you have come to the right place to learn which foot you should be stepping with when hitting the backhand. So let us delve straight into the topic at hand.
Your Footing For The Backhand In Pickleball
When it comes to pickleball in general, the way you approach the ball is critical, but even more so when we examine the backhand shot. Footwork is vital, and there are actually special drills that you can do (and will practice with a coach if you intend to take your game to the next level).
One thing you want to practice, and which you can start implementing on your own, is that you get into the same ideal stance, where the ball is the same distance from our body and at the same height each and every time. And what you want to do is ensure that the positioning is comfortable and that your weight is distributed correctly.
You want to be hitting the ball (ideally) with forward momentum as this will give you a better shot, rather than backing up and playing with your weight on the back foot. Here we get to the placement of our feet. While waiting to receive the ball, your feet can be just slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and you want to have your knees bent, with more weight on the balls of your feet.
The reason for this is to allow for more spring in your movement; if you allow your weight to be placed on the heels of your feet, you are more ‘grounded’ and not able to move as swiftly to receive the ball.
You will ultimately need to move towards the ball with forward momentum, have your paddle back already, step onto your front foot with your back foot spaced not too close or far from your front, and be on the ball of your back foot. However, we still need to examine the transition to this point, so read on.
Transitioning From Your Forward Stance To Hit The Pickleball
When you can predict the ball’s trajectory, you mustn’t have your feet facing the net, but instead outwards to the side that you will be playing the backhand. So to achieve this, you will place your back foot to the rear in a motion known as a drop step. Simultaneously you will bring the paddle back and get behind the ball.
If need be, you will sidestep or shuffle back, trying to keep on the balls of your feet, so there is spring in your step. All the while, your paddle will remain back; do not fall into the trap of thinking that you can shuffle backward with the paddle still in front of you, and only then will you move the paddle.
Additionally, when it comes to shuffling towards the baseline, there may be times when you also have to move back towards the other half of your side of the court. Just be aware of where your teammate is if you are playing doubles, as you do not want to bump into them and miss the shot entirely.
Then, once you know that you are behind the ball and have locked onto the point where contact will take place, you want to get your momentum to go forward. If you do not do this, you’ll find that you get stuck in a rigid position, and you end up just swinging with your arm instead of using your whole body to aid in executing the shot.
Your feet will be the first to move; you will step forward with your front foot (this will depend on which side of the court you are playing on and whether you are left or right-handed). Then have 70% of the weight on this foot, with the rear foot holding 30% of the weight and on the ball of your foot.
To get into this position, though, you will need to step forward with your front foot, maintaining a stance that still faces the side of the court and then finally placing it in the position where you will make contact with the ball. When you strike the ball, you should be in a firm stance that is comfortable, and your eyes should be making direct contact with the ball, just like the paddle.
Although they are entirely different sports, another game where this is vital and which you may have even played and have experience in is golf. One of the main reasons beginners mess up their shots is because they do not have their eyes fixed on the ball, and their stance is off.
Additionally, you want to be in a comfortable position when striking the ball. You do not want to be reaching out to hit the ball or in a situation where you are unstable or where your stance feels uncomfortable and where you are unbalanced.
So as you can see, it is simple enough to know what one ought to do when hitting the ball on the backhand in pickleball; however, some things are easier said than done. So when it comes to playing this shot, perhaps get a pickleball buddy and hit the ball back and forth, helping one another to better your backhand and paying particular attention to your footwork in the game.