Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pickleball Tip of Week #41

Sorry it has been so long , but anita and i have been up in Maryland for the last 4 weeks.

This weeks tip is two fold. First what is one of the best ways to learn quickly??? That would be to watch as many top players play on video since most of us dont have these players local. Go to youtube and in the search line enter " jeff shank  pickleball". I have watched some of these nationals matches 20 times or more.

 This does a couple of things for you. One is you see how YOU should be playing. If the top players are playing a certain way, what makes you think that YOUR way is better? I constantly watch top players and try and emulate them.

Second, you see what shots are possible. If others can make certain shots, with practice, you can also.

Next, you should be PRACTICING. Yes practicing, not just playing. Anita goes to two practive groups a week and i attend one ( not one that i am in charge of or started, but one another advanced player started and i asked if i could come to.). If you dont know anyone that is currently running practice groups, start your own. I would be glad to explain to you some of the drills that we do, and you could use in your practice group.

Next, you should be attending current clinics that are out there. Deb Harrison does one every friday and i do one the first wednesday of the month. Both of ours are at Miona. You can call Miona for more info. And the club has a clinic each Tuesday at Eisenhower in conjunction with club open play.

Lastly , the time to go on the Spain pickleball tour is coming up. There tours are in Sept this year and are very reasonable. I know that several villagers have already signed up. I encourage everyone to check out the info site.....

jeff and anita shank

Pickleball Tip Of Week #40


Today we will have a tip and also will give some recommendations on court etiquette.

Tip. .......

I have discussed before about the Borg. The Borg were a  race of people on Star Trek The Next Generation. You could easily defeat them in the short term. However they were great at closing and changing any weakness that they had and from then on, what you used to overcome them, would no longer work.

This is what you need to do when you play. Adapt to your opponents and overcome. Each time you go on the court, you MUST change your game based on your opponents and to a lesser extent, your partner. I see players come to Miona all the time. They do not realize that what they used against intermediate and low advanced players will get you killed against high advanced players.

For example, hitting a hard shot from low to high against 4.5 and 5.0 players will generally loose you the point as they will just redirect it so quickly back to you that you cant react quick enough. Yes, this same shot may win you points against lower skilled opponents, but you MUST change your game based on your opponents and what will work against them.

When you step up your game and go to play with higher skilled players than yourself, don't get into the mindset that you are going to show the big boys ( girls ) all your tremendous skills. You will just make too many mistakes by hitting balls out and not having patience. Don't be afraid to be humble. When I play with Brian, or Phil, or Robert or Tim etc, as my partner,  I have NO EGO what so ever. I have no problem letting them take as many shots as the want.

Secondly, if I am partnered with one of these top players, our opponents are probably also going to be top advanced players. Probably better skilled than I. Hence my job is to just keep the ball low and in play and NOT make mistakes. I let my much better partner hit the winners, as it is doubly difficult for me to hit a winner against such highly skilled opponents. I am not going to try and prove how I can hit incredible winners. That is not going to pan out. I am just trying to prove that I can hang in there and not get us killed.

Some opponents I play against I can come out of the soft game fairly early and smack a winner at or through them. These are fairly few though. There are some opponents that have such good hand skills that I pretty much have to have a downward hit right at their feet before I will try it just because they will burn us with their return if I smack at them prematurely.

So what I am saying is vary your play according to your opponents . Don't just play the same all the time. Observe what works against certain players and keep that in your head as you play them. Tim Nelson told me to observe how a new person plays in the first point or so and then try and lump them into a category of other players that you have seen in the past and then start playing against them as you would the players you have lumped them into. Then adjust as each point plays out.

Another thing Tim taught me is to praise highly your opponent that makes the hero shot. The shot that they got lucky hitting the winner against you. This will encourage them to keep hitting the stupid hero shots that they will miss a great majority of the time. They will miss three out of four shots, but will only remember the one shot that went in and everyone gasped what a great shot.

Now for some court etiquette.

Don't leave your bag on the benches. These are for people, not bags.

Please throw your paper cups in the trash can.

Don't argue line calls your opponents make. It is their call, not yours.

Don't make line calls while sitting on the bench, even if asked. I can tell you that 40% of the time when I am sitting on a bench with another player, we disagree on whether a ball was in or out.  Players sitting on the bench have NO better idea if a ball is in or not and it is against the rules to consult the bench players.

Don't fight with the court next to you when their ball comes onto your court and they want THAT  ball back, not the one that YOU have been playing with. Most 4.5 and 5.0 players want to continue their game with the ball they started with. They get used to the feel of that ball and they know it is not cracked or lopsided.  
Please move quickly across other courts that have stopped play for you to pass. No you don't have to run, but you are interrupting that game and moving across like a snail is poor form.

thanks, jeff shank

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pickleball Tip of Week #39

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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