I know your mother told you to keep your elbows off the table, but as it relates to pickleball she was wrong. To be successful in pickleball you must keep your elbows on the table.
I have written many times about keeping your paddle in the correct position. Today, I want to talk to your about your non-dominant hand/arm. That is the hand that is not holding the paddle. When I am working with a student, I am not only looking at their paddle hand but I am also observing their non-dominant hand and arm. I want to see that hand also extended out in front of them. Ideally, this hand will be at paddle level. Many good players will lightly touch or support the paddle with their non-dominant hand between shots.
You might be wondering why I am concerned about this. Well, it all has to do with balance. Balance is the first word in my pickleball mantra and its importance cannot be overestimated. Our ability to make solid contact. To move easily from one direction to another…begins with balance. To promote a balanced position, it is important to extend both arms out in front of your body.
Both Elbows on the Table Top
The analogy or visual clue I suggest is to imagine a tabletop in front of you. I want you to place both your elbows on the table. The position will enable you to:
Test it For Yourself
You might think to keep your non-dominant hand out in front, that keeping both elbows on the table, is not a big thing…if so I want you to test it for yourself. Have a friend push you gently when you have both hands in front, and when you have your paddle up and your non-dominant arm by your side. I am confident you will notice a difference in your ability to maintain balance.
Now consider, if you are right-handed, would it be easier to quickly move to the right if you had both elbows on the table or if you had to drag that left arm hanging at your side along with you? We all know that milliseconds can make a difference in pickleball. Our reaction time at the non-volley zone line is critical. Take every advantage you have and please keep both elbows on the table.