Monday, August 5, 2013

Pickleball Tip of Week #5

Today we will discuss the three cardinal rules of PB.

1) 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.

3) 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 opponents.
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.

jeff shank

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