The Optimal “Ready Position” for Pickleball: Mastering Body and Paddle Positioning


If you come from a background in racket sports like tennis or racquetball, you understand the importance of being in a ready position. In these sports, it involves having your knees bent and your feet planted shoulder-width apart, with your racket in front of your body and vertical to the ground. However, when it comes to pickleball, there are a few key differences to consider in the ready position. By mastering the proper body and paddle positioning, you can significantly improve your pickleball game.

Paddle Position in the Ready Position

Let’s start by discussing the paddle position in the ready position. Imagine a clock with 12 numbers on it. In racquetball, the correct starting position is typically considered to be twelve o’clock. However, in pickleball, the pace at the non-volley zone line requires a different technique.

Paddle Position at the Kitchen Line

When playing at the kitchen line, position the backhand side of your paddle towards your opponent and parallel to the net, with a position at 10 or 11 o’clock. This allows you to cover 80% of your body when shots are hit towards you. While it may be challenging for tennis and racquetball players to make this adjustment, it is worth working on. Take advantage of warm-ups to consciously focus on your paddle position and make the necessary changes.

Paddle Position at the Baseline

If you find yourself at the baseline after a pickleball serve, awaiting the next shot, the ready position involves holding your paddle up in front of your body, perpendicular to the court, above the waist, at 12 o’clock. This position allows you to easily hit a forehand or transition into a backhand position as you anticipate the return of serve and set up the third shot drop.

Paddle Grip in the Pickleball Ready Position

In pickleball, there are three main grip types: eastern, western, and continental. More advanced players tend to use the continental grip, while new players often opt for the eastern grip. When it comes to the ready position, use the grip that feels most comfortable for you. In most cases, the eastern grip is the easiest because it allows you to hit forehands and backhands without having to switch your grip.

Body Position in the Pickleball Ready Position

While it’s important to bend your knees in the ready position, it’s worth noting that a low-ready position is not always necessary in pickleball and can limit offensive opportunities. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees, and lean forward on the balls of your feet. This position offers the fastest reaction time and the best maneuverability on the court.

By adopting the optimal ready position, you can enhance your pickleball game, move faster, and be lighter on your feet. The correct paddle position will enable you to strike the ball quickly and maintain control.

Final Thoughts

It is essential to dedicate some time to perfecting your ready position in pickleball. Incorporate it into your warm-up drills until it becomes second nature. After each shot, make a conscious effort to return to the ready position, preparing yourself for the next shot.

With consistent practice, you will notice a significant improvement in the shots you can take and return. The ready position will become ingrained in your muscle memory, allowing you to react quickly and effectively on the court. Remember, mastering the ready position is a key component of elevating your pickleball skills and enhancing your overall performance.

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Written by Billy Pickles

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