By Barry Ford Sun City Grand Pickleball Club Surprise, AZ
Keep the Ball in Play
Mark Friedenberg comments in his book “The Official Pickleball Handbook” that 75% of all shots are won on errors. Do I need to say more…..just keep the ball in play any way you can. AND, don’t try a kill shot on your first opportunity unless it’s just perfect. Be patient and just get the ball back, preferably deep in the middle, while you wait for that perfect put-away! Your opponent may just hit the ball into the net.
Opponents Weaknesses & Paddle Position
Just one example: During warm-ups you can get an indication of your opponent’s potential weaknesses so that you can exploit them in the game. If they never hit a backhand shot….guess what. Also, when he/she returns a serve, if they tend to slide more to their backhand side then guess what. I’d serve to their backhand all day long and hit there as well during play.
Watch for tendencies. If your opponent always hits the same shot to the same location…then cover it. The opposite holds true as well. You need to vary your shots!
Don’t Play Catch
Too many players are hitting the ball back (horizontally) to their opponent while at the net. AND, the ball is coming right back! To win the point you should be hitting the ball at a down angle into the middle of the court at your opponent’s feet. If you’re hitting to your opponent and its coming back to you then your doing something wrong and may well lose that point.
Anticipate / “Open” alleys / Angles
Always assume that the ball will be hit back to you. Be ready. Anticipate your opponent’s returns. If you hit a particular shot, where do you think he/she will return the ball…..THEN COVER that area. Hit for the open alleys. Make your opponents move. Don’t play catch! Hitting angles wins points.
Move Your Feet
Have you ever watched the top tennis players and how they glide around the court? How they are always moving from side to side and front to back. That’s not by accident. Their feet are always in motion positioning their body to hit the next shot. The same should be true with the game of Pickleball. Keep those feet moving even when you’re at the non-volley line getting ready to hit that next shot. Planting your feet at the kitchen line is a no-no!
Your Body & Paddle Positions