In the article titled timing 101, light was brought to the importance of timing in paddleball and that timing may be the most essential skill set necessary for genuine enjoyment of all paddle and racquet sports, but timing has a counterpart; “Form”, form can elevate the skill of “timing” to an art.
Form in paddleball ranges, if you hold your paddle like a meat clever or claw hammer the effect is bashing and butchery, whereas if you handle a paddle with precision like it were a scalpel or a finely rosined bow, the effect shall be graceful, smooth, and precise.
While there are a lucky few who may be born with good form, others have to work and work and work to attain it. I fall into the latter and have had to work hard to attain good paddleball form. This article will focus on building blocks for good paddleball form.
Building blocks of good paddleball form come from balance, coordination and visualization.
A building block for great balance is to have a well-toned core, leg and foot muscle strength. Coordination can be improved with off-balance drills where it takes both strength and balance to maintain your equilibrium. Thirdly, visualization of others on the court who are known to have great form, study their motion, take a short video with your smart phone and study, then have someone take a short video of your form as you hit various shots and compare.
Toning the leg and mid-section muscles of your body doesn’t require hours of time spent in the gym sweating and grunting. Paddleball players don’t need massive muscle; they need lean efficient muscle similar to that of a dancer or swimmer or mountaineer.
A 10-minute drill, great for toning foot and leg muscle, is climbing stairs (not a Stairmaster), climbing stairs. I start with doing one step at a time at a quick pace, 5 times. Then 2 steps at a time 5 times followed by (the hard part) 3 steps at a time done slow and easy to stretch and strengthen the feet, calves, knee and upper leg muscle. The 3-step begins to build paddleball coordination (it isn’t as easy as it sounds); you will notice at first a bit of wobble in your un-toned uncoordinated legs, as coordination improves you become smooth, strong and graceful.
It’s important not to do 3 steps until you have warmed up completely and are not feeling any abnormal pain in the knee joint area. Stop this exercise if at any time you feel dizzy or light headed. There are fall hazards associated with this exercise and care should be taken! It takes time to gain strength and coordination.
As you elevate your leg doing the 3-step, imagine you are taking the last stride forward to intercept a kill or pass shot, you will notice a burn in your legs from doing this controlled exercise. An advanced version of this exercise incorporates a 5 to 10 pound dumbbell in each hand.
A good coordination exercise done immediately after completion of the stairs exercise and can be likened to a dancer moving from one pose to another with controlled smooth motion. In this exercise (paddle optional) imagine intercepting a backhand counter kill shot that is 6-8 inches from the floor, take one long stride towards the imaginary ball, use a low sweeping pendulum motion, move your body parallel to the floor, at the point of imaginary contact with the ball, stop. Balance 2 seconds in this fully extended stance then thrust up, rotate and go directly to a forehand at the same height trying to maintain smooth controlled motion, then to the back hand. Continue until near exhaustion. This exercise will improve your balance, leg strength and cardio. If done while listening to music, it can enhance your rhythm.
There may be some stumbling and pain associated with these moves so go easy until you gain strength and balance and your form improves. Don’t overdo-it, and if 6-8 inches is too tough, try starting out at a higher height of 12 – 18 inches. Cool down with calf, hamstring and quadricep leg stretches, you will need them.
Wizdom Zone–Form 101