For pickleball and tennis players alike, a strong core will help add power to your swing and keep you stable during sudden start-and-stop movements.
Think of your core as your body’s power source. It’s through your core that the power will transfer from the ground, to your arm, then to the paddle. If your core is strong, you’ll deliver a powerful strike. If your core is weak, your power will be low and you’ll be more likely to develop an injury.
If you’re looking to become a stronger pickleball player and improve your performance, a strong core is a good place to start. Check out these three core exercises to help get you started.
Let’s begin with a basic core exercise – crunches. Love them or hate them, this classic exercise will help you strengthen your midsection. Here’s a quick refresher on proper form to help you reap the most benefits:
- Pretend your lower back is glued to the floor. This will help prevent rocking while performing the exercise.
- Bend your knees and keep your feet firmly planted to the ground.
- Put your hands behind your head but refrain from clasping your fingers and pulling your head forward. This can lead to neck strain and will take the tension away from your core.
- Focus on your abdomen and slowly lift your upper torso and shoulders off the floor. Hold and slowly release back to the starting position. Repeat.
Not only will planks help strengthen your core, they will also boost your heart rate, build stamina and improve your stability.
There are two types of planks: The traditional plank and the forearm plank. If you’ve never done a plank before, start with the traditional version. Once you get stronger, transition to the forearm plank for more of a challenge.
The traditional plank requires you to get into the “up” part of push up position. Make sure that your hands are shoulder-width apart and press your toes into the ground.
Squeeze your glutes to stabilize your body. Relax your neck and look down at the ground.
The forearm plank starts like a traditional plank in push-up position. From here, however, you’ll bend your arms to 90 degrees by placing your elbows on the floor.
Rotate your hands so that your palms are touching the ground. Keep a straight line from your head to your toes. Make sure to keep your glutes engaged and do not let your hips dip. Hold this position.
When talking about core exercises, the main focus is usually on the front of your body. However, it’s important to not forget about the lower back, which is an integral piece of the core-strengthening puzzle.
Superman isn’t just a super hero; it’s a great strengthening exercise to add to your fitness routine. Picture the Man of Steel with his arms and legs slightly raised upwards as he zips through the sky. For this exercise, we’ll want to mimic his movements. Don’t panic—flying is not required and should not be attempted!
Here’s how to do it:
- Lie face down on the floor with both arms extended above your head. Keep your legs straight and feet on the floor.
- Raise both arms and legs at the same time, keeping your midsection firmly placed on the ground. Control your motion and focus on the power being sent to the lower back to help you carry out this exercise.
- Hold for a few seconds and slowly come back to the starting position.
If lifting both arms and legs at the same time is too difficult at first, start by raising one arm and the opposite leg at a time and slowly build your strength until you’re soaring on the safety of your living room floor.
The more you work these exercises into your routine, the stronger your core will get, and the more your game will improve. Team GAMMA suggests that you talk with your primary care physician prior to starting a new exercise regimen to make sure that you are able to participate.