Today we will discuss the three cardinal rules of PB.
Get to the net. Yes i can hear everyone saying we all know this. But
not everyone does know it and / or do it. This is especially hard for
beginner players or ex tennis players. You need to play PB at the NVZ
about 3 inches behind the line. Only enough behind it so you dont
violate it. Enough said on this.
2) Limit unforced errors. We discussed this in the second of this series. Enough said.
Learn the soft game. This is where we will spend most of our
discussion. You need to learn to dink the ball while standing at the
kitchen and you must be able to consistently hit the ball from the base
line, softly into the NVZ ( this is usually most critical on the third
shot ). The third shot is the most important shot of the game. It's what
sets up the rest of the point. If the serving team hits a nice soft
third shot into the NVZ from the baseline, the serving team is now able
to follow that soft shot up to the NVZ and are on an equal footing with
their opponents (both teams at the NVZ).
Understand that what works well at beginner and intermediate
level does not work at the higher levels. Banging ( hitting the ball
very hard ) from the baseline, generally, is not an overpowering or good
shot to use at the advanced levels. Your two advanced opponents, are
ready at the NVZ, waiting for you to bang the ball from the
baseline,which will usually translate into you losing the point.
You need to have a total array of shots in your arsenal. If
you are lobbing or banging the ball instead of hitting soft shots into
the NVZ, you will only progress so far. We are lucky that every
instructor in The Villages stresses learning the soft game. Hence, the
Villages' players are generally a leg up on their competition who aren't
experienced in playing the soft game.
We will also be fortunate to see the soft game at its extremes
when we witness the Pros playing in the April Exhibition. Pickelball is
all about CONTROL. Controlling your shots, and thus controlling your
One of the main reasons top players play the soft game is
that it gives them the ability to hit shots in which their opponents
can't hurt you with their return shots.
Your best way
to learn the soft game ( dinking and hitting shots softly into the
kitchen from anywhere on the court ) is to get a practice partner and go
out on the courts by yourselves and practice the soft game.
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