Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pickleball Tip of Week #39

Eclipse An Untold Secret of Untold Secrets: Pickleball Tournament of Champions Feat. Puppet Master
Puppet Master Painting on his 20 x 44 ft canvas. A game of intelligence, power, control, control, control, and possibilities. I do not own the music you can pick up Collapse on itunes along with…
Added on 4/03/14

For those of you that may not be on Timothy Nelsons email list. He has not come out with anything lately. But he came out with this two days ago. YOU NEED to watch this. I have been fortunate to have had Timothy in our home for about 30 days over the last three years. He comes again in three days and will be with us for almost two weeks this time. I have had the huge advantage of having sat thru 50 hours of watching Tim give private lessons to our residents.
I often talk at my class that i teach, that what i teach is not stuff that i came up with..... 95% of what i teach is education i received from watching and learning from Timothy.

In my opinion Timothy Nelson is the best player in the world. Not only because of the things he can do with his paddle and ball, but the extreme intelligence he posses and the strategies that he must employ with his partner because NO ONE wants to hit him the ball if they want to win.
I have played many hours against Tim. When you play against him , you HAVE to turn off your subconscious mind because he intentionally tells you things with his body and paddle position to make you think he is about to do one thing, and then he does the exact opposite. You have to just be ready for ANYTHING, NOT what he is trying to tell you.

I have heard Timothy say that the only difference between a 4.5 player and a 5.0 player is the way they THINK. There is SO much brain power used at the highest level.  We are very fortunate to be having Timothy and the rest of the west coast top players visiting us next week. The best thing that you will learn when you watch these top players is that WHAT IS POSSIBLE. Once your mind sees certain shots, you start to BELIEVE that you can do them. Until you see others do certain things it is very hard to think that you can do them. You will see Erne shots, Arizona pops, many around the post shots, shots that are dropped softly into the kitchen when an opponent lobs over their head, etc. I love to use the example of the back flip on a motorcycle. It was 70 years before someone was able to do a single  back flip successfully. Now riders are doing double back flips, just because the first person did it and now the brain believes i can too.
Here is the video......
Watch it . It will put you into a new frame of mind.
jeff shank

Pickleball Tip of Week #38

So we have gone over.....serve
                               .......serve return
Now lets go over THE MOST IMPORTANT SHOT IN PB. The third shot. The third shot is done by the serving team. The serving team is at a disadvantage because of the two bounce rule. The serving team will be hitting the third shot with both members of the serving team starting the third shot both at or near the base line, while the receiving team will be at a much more advantageous the NVZ line.

So the vast majority of the time, the third shot should be a soft drop shot into the kitchen. Why???? Because a soft drop shot into the kitchen, done correctly does a couple of things. One.... it gets the serving team up to the net. This is a slow shot that takes time, hence you can use this extra time to get both members of the serving team up to the net and now at an even position on the court with their opponents who have been waiting for them up at the net.

Second, it does not allow the receiving team to do much with the ball other than dink it back.
Now the next part is really important and is not done well , even by many better players. I am on the serving team, i see that the serve return will be going to my partner. Now is one of the best times during the game to call out "YOURS" OR  "MINE". You dont want the ball to go between you with neither of you taking it.

Ok, so i see my partner will be hitting the third shot from near the base line. I watch my partner as i take about two steps into the court. By my second step , my partner will have hit the third shot. IF it is a good third shot ( nice and low ) I will QUICKLY move up to the net. IF it is too high, i will immediatley stop and split step and get low and get ready for a smash near my feet. Because i am only  two steps into the court, i will have a good chance at getting it back.
If i had just blindly gone up to the net , and my partner had hit the third shot too high, i would have much less chance of returning a smash near my feet.

The serve return should be deep. If it is NOT then you may want to smash the third shot at your opponents. A third shot that is smashed from mid court DOES have a chance of overpowering to good players standing at the net. However i do NOT recommend blasting a ground stroke at two good players standing at the net from the BASE LINE.  The players at the net have a lot more time with a ball smashed all the way back at the base line and can easily handle it and many times put it back anywhere they want.
That is enough for today. Will continue on the third shot next time.
jeff shank

Pickleball Tip of Week #37


 I have been really busy this past month. I passed my real estate license exam. I have been licensed in Maryland since 2001 ( so if you know anyone looking to buy preowned here in TV, or in Maryland, pass my info on to them :).

As advised in last tip, we will continue on with the RETURN OF SERVE.
Quick recap of last tip on return of serve:
Get return deep
Get return to a bangers backhand
Hit return to a great poacher so he cant come up to net and poach
Get your butt to the net after return

This weeks NEW info on return of serve
1)If you are pretty good, and the server does not have a really fast serve, try taking the return as a half volley. To do this , as soon as you see the serve is not a great one, move into the court and hit the return immediately after the ball has hit the ground. This is a more advanced shot, but try it. This does two things to your advantage, it gets you to the net REALLY quick and it throws off the timing of your opponents as the ball is coming back at them quicker than they expect.

2) If your forehand is much stronger, try and situate yourself on the court so that you can usually hit the return with your forehand. This is not hard to do as long as the server does not have a great serve. This is one of the few times i am a proponent of running around the backhand.

3) If the server pulls you off the court from the right hand side with a strong angled serve, make sure you try and hit that return diagonally back into the court corner that the serve came from. The reason for this is that the server was able to get you off the court and out of position. Going back deep diagonally takes time for the ball to get there. This extra time give YOU extra time to get back into position.

4)  If the server has an overpowering fast serve to you......concentrate 100% on the ball as it is coming toward you. If you focus on this concentration the ball does seem to come at you slower.
Next week.......3rd shot

Pickleball Tip of Week #36

Now for the Tip of the Week

Last week we went over the serve in detail. Today we will discuss the serve return in depth.

The number one important thing in the serve return is to get it DEEP. It is more important to get it deep, than it is to get it back hard or to the backhand or anything else. People ask me all the time......How do i handle bangers. Well this is where you start. It is very hard for even a good banger to be able to hit the ball hard and low enough to overpower you at the net if they have to hit their shot from the baseline. The same is NOT true if they can whack the ball at you from mid court.

Secondly, if bangers are overpowering you, you have to do one of two things with the serve return. Either hit it to the bangers backhand....or hit it to the banger that is the weaker banger. In either case, you still have to get it deep. What i mean by deep is within three feet of the baseline. Again, you cant let a banger hit the third shot with their forehand from mid court.

Now if your opponents banging their third shot is not an issue for you.....Here are the options (still wanting to hit it deep ). Go right down the middle a little closer to the opponent standing to the left side (start service box ) . This assumes that both players are right handed. What you are doing is going down the middle on the serve return, but going closer to the opponent that would have to hit it with a backhand. You are trying to establish confusion. It is closer to the backhand player, but the middle is usually taken by the forehand player so each may think the other is taking it.

Next if i am playing against opponents and one of them is really a strong poacher, i want to hit the return to the poacher. In the video i sent out a couple of months ago with me playing with Brian against Brians son and Rob Elliot, they usually hit the serve return to Brian. Why???? Because Brian is an excellent poacher. If they hit the return to me, Brian can come up and hurt them with a poach. If they hit the return to Brian, he has to stay back and let the ball bounce due to the two bounce rule, so he can't come up immediately and poach. So there are instances that you want to play the better player.

ONE THING I SEE OVER AND OVER IS THE SERVE RETURNER NOT MAKING A GREAT ENOUGH EFFORT TO GET TO THE NET AFTER THEY HIT THE SERVE RETURN.  I cannot stress how important this is. When you are standing there waiting for the serve to come to you, you need to be thinking two things

deep return
follow your return up to the net. Move up immediately.

I am going to go ahead and stop here as i still have quite a bit of info on the serve return which we will get out next week.

jeff shank

Pickleball Tip of Week #35

Ok, the plan is to go over the first three shots, in depth, that you should be making in your game. This will be comprehensive, so we will take three tips to cover everything.

First Shot.......Serve
If any of the first three shots are not hit correctly, you will be at a huge disadvantage. Each shot leads to the next, so you want to give yourself the highest chance of staying in and winning the point.
Lets say i am serving from the even ( right ) side of the court. I am right handed. Before i serve i look at two things, which way is the wind blowing and are all the players on the court right handed. I will mention to my partner, " wind behind us, Jim is left handed", just to make sure he/she knows before we start the game.

I will usually stand on the left hand side of the service area if the opponent i am serving to is right handed. This gives me the highest chance of hitting his backhand, my goal 80% of the time. If my opponent is LEFT handed, it is easier for me to hit his backhand if i serve from the right side of the even court. If i do stand on the right side  trying to serve to a left handers backhand, i will immediately move back to my left, after i serve,  so if my opponent returns the serve back to me, i dont have to hit it with MY backhand.

After i serve, i want to move myself just behind the baseline (NOT INSIDE THE COURT) and to the left side of my responsible area so that i have the highest chance of hitting the third shot with my forehand.

If my partner is serving, I want to stand in the area that gives me the highest chance of doing the third shot with my forehand, and also BEHIND THE BASELINE.  Not being behind the baseline for hitting the third shot is one area that i see SO many players messing up on. It is VERY hard to hit a competent third shot if you are standing inside the baseline and your opponents hit the third shot as they should.......DEEP. Now you are trying to hit the third shot with the ball bouncing at your feet, which  is VERY hard to control.

Finally, when i serve i want to put the ball DEEP. The deeper the better. The deeper i put the serve, the harder i make it for my opponent to do a great serve return. I will occasionally however, try and hit a short serve on opponents that like to crank hard on the serve return. They now come running up toward the net to hit the return, still intent on hitting the ball hard and will many times hit the ball out long. 

That is it for now. Next week we will go over the serve return.
jeff shank

Pickleball Tip of Week #34

Hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday season. Anita and i were without PB for two weeks. One on a cruise and the other visiting family in Maryland.

Todays tip will be on stroking NOT pokeing the ball.
Many of my tips come from my observations while playing or more likely while sitting on the bench watching others play. I was lucky enough to play a couple of games this morning with National Doubles Champion..... Brian Staub. After playing with him as my partner i took a break and watched from the side lines.

Brian is one of the sports TOP players. He also has a text book swing at the ball. For those of you that havent watched it ....go to ....

 ....... and watch the mens open doubles finals from last month. Notice how Brian and ALL the top players are very relaxed and smooth in their stokes. They anticipate where and how their opponents will be hitting the ball. They move to that point and get their paddle back early and smoothly without rushing... hit the ball.

This is in contrast to what i see lower level players doing...which is NOT anticipating, NOT moving to where the ball will be coming to and NOT swinging smoothly and without rushing the shot. These lower level players seem to wait until the last moment and then POKE at the ball which gives them MUCH less control on the shot.

If you want to improve and play like a top player, then you want to do the things that the top players do. You should spend time each week watching videos of top players doing what they do best. Great PB>
jeff shank

Pickleball Tip of Week #33

Ok, so i have been slacking the last month on the tips :(. HOwever this tip contains a LOT OF INFO>
Today lets talk about THINKING.
If you just want to go out and be in the fresh air and get some exercise, there is no need to think and have a game plan and adjust that game plan as the match progresses. But if you want to IMPROVE and win more games it takes more work, expecially brain work.
I once saw Timothy Nelson put in writing that the ONLY difference between a 4.5 and a 5.0 is how they think. I would say that 60% of skill comes from thinking and the rest comes from ability to hit shots. To put it another way, it is more important to know which shot to hit, than it is to have the physical ability to hit a great shot.
Thinking starts before the game. I am mentally thinking what my opponents skills are. What they do well and what they do not as well. If someone is extremely agile and tall, lobbing is not a good shot to hit against them. If they have super quick hands then i know that if i am going to try and overpower them, i better be hitting down at their feet. If they are a great dinker, maybe dinking to their partner or in the middle is the best option. I am trying to put the odds in my favor as to which kind of shot will give me the best reward.
Shot One.  I am serving. I am trying to decide where is the best serve to hit. Maybe go for their backhand. If they are giving me a lot of room to hit to their backhand, they usually WANT me to serve to their backhand. If they like to crush  my serve back, maybe I will  try and hit a serve short, just past the NVZ. Many times they will come running up to the net and still try and hit it hard and it will go out long. Ninety five percent of the time i want to make sure above all else that the serve is deep though. 
Shot Two. I return serve.  I am thinking BEFORE they serve where i want to hit the serve return. Down the middle and hope they fight over it. Is one player giving me a chance to hit to their backhand , even though their backhand is weak. Does one player have a hard time hitting the third shot so i want to go to them. Is one player slow on their feet, so if i hit my return to them, it is hard for them to come up to the net afterwards. Ninety fiver percent of the time i want to make sure the return of serve is deep though.
Third shot. Most important shot in PB. Ninety percent of the time this is soft into the kitchen. Do i want to hit this shot soft into the middle and hope they fight over it? Do i want to go to my right side to that players backhand as most players are not as good with their backhand.
The first three shots are the easiest to think ahead of time as to what type of shot you will do. After that you still want to try and hit shots that take advantage of your opponents weaknesses.
I am a firm believer that if you have two equally skilled right handed players together, the player on the left takes balls down the middle as that is the forehand. If i am playing with a much better partner ( Phil Bagley, Tim Nelson, Brian Staub, etc) against two top players, my only goal is to keep the ball low and in play. I let them poach as much as they want . I am always looking out of the corner of their eye to see if they are coming over to take "MY Shot". I have no ego problem letting the much better player take as many shots as they want. This is just smart PB>
Try and use your brain power, not just your athletic abilities as your brain is more important.
jeff shank

Pickleball Tip of Week #32

Ok, this tip is how to tell the future.

I was asked a question today by a player that i had just played with for the first time. Several times during most points i will usually call  "mine" or "yours" as to who should be hitting the ball coming back at us. He wanted to know how i was able to say "mine" or "yours" BEFORE the opponent actually hit the ball.

I told him that i was processing 4 things in my mind in the split second before our opponent hit the ball:
1) which way was his body showing
2) which way was his paddle showing
3) how had he hit the ball in the past
4) where was the best place for him to hit the ball

Players that use a lot of "miss direct" shots , you cant use 1 and 2. But most players dont use miss direct shots. So try and get your conscious and subconscious mind working and you should be able to already be moving to where the ball will be coming to. This is a big factor in playing,as it is much better to already be at the ball and swing in a smooth controlled fashion to most effectively return a ball.   Rather than pock at a ball that you have to quickly be moving to.
jeff shank

Pickleball Tip of Week #31

Hey all,
I got this from Pickleball Inc. , one of the top paddle makers.
Jeff Shank

Easy protein snacks for tournament days

Posted On October 28, 2013
I have received four different inquires about snacks and what tops players pack for long tournament days... So here are some healthy ideas I've gathered along the way:
Many say that protein helps repair damaged muscles and tissues and by choosing omega-3-rich protein sources you'll help counter inflammation that can build up in tendons, joints and tissues after a hard game of pickleball. While protein powders and energy bars seem like the easiest choice to snack on after play, there are several more wholesome protein picks that are just as quick and easy.
Traditional hummus is made with chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, garlic and spices. Packed with fiber, protein, vitamins and heart-healthy fat, hummus can be enjoyed on the go in small packs bought at the grocery store, or you can make your own. Dip pita chips or raw veggies in hummus to boost your carb, fiber and antioxidant intake.
Now packed in convenient pouches, tuna fish can be tossed in your bag before you dash out to the court. The packs come in various flavors, so you can enjoy a wholesome protein source straight out of the bag while also reaping the benefits of this anti-inflammatory omega-3 source.
Protein-packed nuts are one of my favorites. Best picks include raw or lightly salted almonds, walnuts, peanuts and pistachios. To get your nut and chocolate fix try Costco's trail mix with those m&ms.
You can find bags of single-serve edamame in grocery stores now, or simply fill a cup of shelled or unshelled pods in a re-sealable bag. Roasted soy nuts also offer a crunchy, low-maintenance snack when hunger strikes.
Nonfat plain Greek yogurt is also good because in just a single serving you can get about 20g of protein. The single-serve packs are great for an easy, on-the-go snack. Adding fresh berries and even some high-fiber cereal makes it that much better.
And, don't forget chocolate milk.
Keep the fuel in your body and the fire in your play :-)

Pickleball Tip of Week #30

Ok, this week we will talk a little about major and minor poaching.

In major poaching, you totally commit to taking the ball from your partners side of the court. You usually do this for one of two reasons. First, because your partner is way out of position . Second , because you believe you can surprise your opponents and hit a winner against them. In this type of poach,  the non poaching partner needs to grasp quickly what is happening and cover the now vacant side of the court that the poacher has left open.

In minor poaching , one player comes slightly over onto the partners side of the court to take the ball. There are several reasons for this. One is that the poacher may be a superior player. Two, the poacher is taking a forehand on their partners side of the court and feels that is prudent. Three, the non poacher is slightly out of position ( the non poacher was the receiver and just returned the serve and is moving up to the net and the poacher just has to take a slight step to the middle to take the shot).

 No matter what the situation, the non poacher has to be on their toes. If i am the minor poacher and move past the middle of the court to take the shot, i must then move back to my side of the court after i hit the ball. Again, this is not a full commitment poach. I have no thought of staying on my partners side of the court. I just moved over TEMPORARILY .  And now i have to move back to my side of the court which is open. Hence my momentum is away from the center of the court so my partner must realize this and COVER THE CENTER of the court that i have just vacated.
jeff shank

Pickleball Tip of Week #29

I am currently taking a couple of days off of play to rest my aging body. I went yesterday to watch mainly 3.0 to 4.0 players. This weeks tip is geared toward those players who are intermediate to low advanced ( 3.0 to 4.0 ).

It is VERY frustrating as an instructor to watch these players play. If they would just make a few slight changes they would play SO much better. I feel sometimes like good info is heard but then when play starts, all that good info goes by the way side.

YOU HAVE TO PLAY WITH CONTROL. I constantly make the comment that players below 4.5 live to hit winners. This is NOT how you win pickleball. You have to change your priorities from hitting winners to NOT MAKING MISTAKES.  Watch youtube videos of 4.5 and 5.0 play. These higher level players make highest priorites of not making mistakes. By not making mistakes, i am talking about the following:

1) Dont try and hit a winner when the odds of that shot being a winner are low. I like to make the analogy of my one friends who is a world class swimmer and holds several softball records. When he plays golf ( not one of his better sports ) he tries to hit every drive  300 yards. He has the hardest golf swing of anyone i have ever played with. Unfortunately 5 to 10 percent of the time he actually connects with the ball and hits it 300 yards. 75% of the time he mishits it and it goes 50 yards. It is awe inspiring when he hits it 300 yards, and that is the only shot he remembers. His score is terrible. But he is always trying to impress. This is what i see intermediate players doing. They want to hit that low percentage shot that everyone goes oooouu, awwww. But they dont remember the 75% of the time when that shot ends up a looser.

2) Dont try and hit a winner off a winner. When someone hits a great shot on you , your goal is to just get it back and not give it back where your opponents can hit a winner. I see so many people that have a drop shot hit on them when they are back at the baseline and go running forward and now instead of taking the pace off the ball and dropping it into the kitchen, they smash it trying for a winner.

3) When you do have a winner to hit ( like an overhead smash at your opponents feet ) there is no need to go 110%. Go at 90-95%. I see so many players overhit a winner and it ends up a looser.
The next time you are at play, watch your 4.0 and below players playing and see if what i am saying is not so. Their main concern is to hit a winner at any cost. Now watch 4.5 or 5.0 players either in person or on youtube if you dont have that skill set where you play. 4.5 and above players points generally last MUCH longer than intermediate players. Why?????? Because the are not in the mind set that they have to end the point now. They have confidence. They know that if they can go longer than their opponents without making a mistake, they will probably win the point.

Again, watch play while you are waiting. See how many points are won, and how many points are lost. MOST POINTS ARE LOST do to someone making a mistake. That mistake might be over hitting a winner. Trying for a winner before a winner is there. Popping the ball up on a poor dink or a poor lob. Trying for a winner off a winner. ETC .

YOU HAVE TO GET INTO THE MINDSET OF OUTLASTING YOUR OPPONENTS. NOT HITTING WINNERS. Yes you do want to hit a winner when a winner is there, but not before the shot is there nor going 110% on that winner. You will not believe how powerful you will feel when you develop CONTROL of your shots ( hitting the shot where you want to ) and CONTROL of your mind with your shot selection ( chosing the correct shot to hit ).

Sorry if i constantly harp on certain issues. But i keep seeing the same things over and over again where i think some things might need to be discussed several times before it finally sinks in to some.

jeff shank

Pickleball Tip of Week #28

Ok, so let me first of expand on hitting to certain partners that we started last time.

One thing that i saw out at Nationals in Az. is that if both partners are of equal strength, in tournaments some teams will just pick one opponent and hit every thing to that player. This does a couple of things. It put a LOT of pressure on the player getting all the balls, and it makes the player getting NO balls on edge and that player may start to try and poach when is not appropriate.
We are half way thru the first year of tips, so now would be a good time to go back to basics.
There are three things that i say every player MUST put maximum priority on:

1) GET TO THE NET     Except in instances where you are going to have a ball hit hard at you, you should be up at the net. This is where the game is won. Anytime you are up at the net and your opponents are back, you are at the advantage. When you and your partner are stuck at the baseline, you are ALWAYS looking for the ball that you can hit soft into the kitchen to get you both up to the net. And when you are at the net with your opponents back, you want to try and KEEP your opponents back by hitting the ball deep at their feet.

2) LEARN THE SOFT GAME   The soft game is what is able to get you up to the net when you are back. And it lets you compete against advanced players. What works for you at begginer and intermediate play will not let you win against advanced players. When you play against better players, it is imperative that you make your advanced opponents hit UP on the ball. This usually means you must be able to dink into the kitchen.

3) KEEP ERRORS TO A MINIMUM     I often talk about the playing characteristics of different player levels:

 Beginner players.......... just want to get the ball back over the net.

 Intermediate players...just want to hit winners( but end up making LOTS of errors

Advanced players....Place most emphasis on NOT MAKING MISTAKES. By not making mistakes i mean not hitting the ball out or into the net and not popping the ball up for their opponents to kill. Yes, advanced players want to hit a winner, but they realize that not making an error is more important than hitting a winner. I want my partner to be a SMART player. That means making the correct decisions on which type of shot to hit.

Remember, MOST points are not won by hitting a great shot, they are lost by making a mistake.

Pickleball Tip of Week #27

Hey All,
I am still up in Maryland and Pickleball less for one month now. I hope to be able to return this coming weekend. 
This weeks tip will be on playing your opponents.

 This is more for competition play rather than rec play, but you can practice it at rec play also. Lets consider the first scenario where one of your opponents is much better than the other opponent. IF YOUR MAIN concern is to win the match, you will want to hit to the weaker player all other things being equal.

IF YOU WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR GAME, hit to the better player. This is what we locals all decided to do when Tim Nelson comes to play with us each year. What is the sense of being on the court with the best player in the world , if you dont play balls to him? Just a waste of everyones time!!!!! 

Now lets say both your opponents are advanced   players, so fairly equal in overall skill levels. However every player has strengths and weaknesses. I consider myself a very good dinker. But if my opponents are Deb Harrison and player XXXXX , I will probably chose to get into a dink battle with player XXXX as i know that Deb also excels at the dink game. Why would i want to play to my opponents strengths? ( unless again i am just looking to improve my game and not win points). However if i am going to hit a nice high lob and can chose to hit it over Deb's head or her six foot two, 200 pound partners head, i will probably choose Deb's five foot zero  head to try and go over. Again, i am trying NOT to play into my opponents strengths.

Next week we will talk about a strategy of who to hit the ball to that i learned out at Nationals. 

jeff shank