Paddle choices – Graphite vs. Fiberglass

Ted from NC asks: “having only played a few games, I don’t know how graphite and fiberglass paddles differ. I’ve tried both and don’t see that one is any more effective than the other.”

ANSWER: A traditional paddle is made up with both a face (skin) layer and a core (the guts). Each paddle can be made up of a variety of material combinations—each offering a different feel and weight. Because of the numerous combinations of materials and blends a graphite face paddle with an aluminum core (Pickle-ball Inc’s, Attack paddle) feels different then a graphite face with paper core (Vortex, Elite Graphite or Champion), but both paddles are called graphite. Interesting stuff …

Face materials are generally either graphite or fiberglass; whereas, the core’s material can include paper, aluminum or wood. The fiberglass face can be stronger and more durable, but is lighter than graphite. Pickle-ball Inc’s fiberglass face paddles are the Legacy (currently my favorite) and the Champion Aluminum. Another layer to factor into the feel of the ball could be if the face is painted or not.  My guess is the paint layers are so thin one could not feel a difference – but you never know… So with two different face options and three different core options there becomes numerous combinations of paddle feel and weight to choose from.

There are other non-traditional paddles out there, and I have seen some with vinyl and aluminum faces and other unknown (top secret) materials.

I hope my explanation of paddle materials helps you Ted, because one fiberglass paddle vs. another fiberglass WILL feel and play different depending on the face, core, and weight.

Jennifer Lucore

Jennifer Lucore

Third Shot

Third shot

Posted On April 09, 2013

Marsha from Toledo, OH asks: “I was interested in your thoughts on strategy. I hear so many players talk about the third shot being a soft shot so that your team can get to the kitchen line. What is your take on the third shot and what is your strategy when hitting it?”

Jay from Steamboat Springs, CO asks: “I understand the mechanics of the 3rd shot, drop shot, master shot (whatever its called) but need some help with where to place it to combine a solid strategy with the shot. Help?”

Susan from Northville, MI asks: “I’ve read about mastering a 3rd shot. What are your thoughts?”

Answer by “Jennifer Locore”

Great questions- For our purposes here, I’ll stay with “third shot”. I’ve also heard it referred to different names, but they generally describe the type of shot like “drop shot” or “long dink” opposed to being the actual third shot of a point; admittedly, I’d not heard of the “master shot”.

The third shot is a valuable and necessary shot to master; maybe that’s where that name came from. This shot is used when your opponents are already at the net and you’re at the baseline needing to get yourself to the kitchen line. The third shot is a long dink hit from the baseline softly over the net and into your opponent’s non-volley zone. The goal, often easier said than done, is to land it at their feet not allowing them to volley the ball in the air. When executed correctly this shot allows the person (and their teammate) hitting the third shot to get to the net . The sooner you get to the net, the higher chance of winning the point.

The location of placement is dependent on various scenarios, but the middle is generally the safest and highest percentage; in part because the net is lower, but also because you have more room for error and there is always the chance of confusion on the part of your opponents. If the opportunity presents itself by an opponent being out of position, cross court or down the line can be effective. Lastly, I’m sure you’ve noticed players who “play” to the weaker player. That’s a whole other strategy that may be considered as you decide where or who to hit your third shot too.

Whatever you decide, once the ball leaves your paddle move to the net ready for the elusive pop-up. If you’re ready, you’ll be occasionally gifted a perfectly placed ball ready to be smacked for a winning volley shot. That is a great feeling!

 It’s subtle improvements and consistency that will take you to the next skill level.

National PickleBall Champion

National PickleBall Champion

Three Lanes

Three Lanes

Posted On August 16, 2012

Most people think their choice of where to hit the ball is limited to one half of the court or the other. The best way to visualize the court is to divide it into three lanes. One lane down the middle and one on either side giving you three choices, or three lanes, to place the ball. Always know where you want to place the ball BEFORE you hit it.

At the 5.0 level you really have to protect all lanes because they can place a shot down a lane (or line) at any time.

So BEFORE you hit the ball, have a target, pick a lane and go for it!

Written by Jennifer Lucore

National PickleBall Champion

National PickleBall Champion

The Dink Shot

Posted On August 16, 2012

The Dink Shot

Mary asks: I am new to pickleball and everyone talks about the dink shot. What is that?

The definition from the Official Tournament Rulebook states: A dink shot is a soft shot that is intended to arc over the net and land within the non-volley zone.

This shot is important to have in your bag of shot choices. Dink away!

Written by Jennifer Lucore

National PickleBall Champion

National PickleBall Champion

Proper Serving

Correct Serve Motion

Posted On November 30, 2012

Super form

Excellent form on her serve Chris M

Bennie asks: The rules say the serve must be underhand. Many players serve sidearm. Is this permitted?

ANSWER: There has been, and probably always will be, much discussion on this rule; both the wording and the interpretation of it. But bottom line is however you create your serve (sidearm or not) as long as you follow the below rules with your paddle head below your wrist and contact with the ball below your waist – then that is permitted.

For fun I looked up the definition of sidearm according to the Webster Dictionary: of, relating to, using, or being a throw (as in baseball) in which the arm is not raised above the shoulder and the ball is thrown with a sideways sweep of the arm between shoulder and hip.

Also, the odds are if you are serving sidearm you will have some upward arc in your serving stroke.

Here’s the Serve Motion Rules from the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) Official Tournament Rulebook:

SECTION 4 – SERVICE RULES

4.A. Serve Motion. The serve must be made with an underhand stroke so that contact with the ball is made below waist level.

4.A.1. Underhand Defined. The arm must be moving in an upward arc and the paddle head shall be below the wrist when it strikes the ball.

Written by Jennifer Lucore

National PickleBall Champion