Happy Fall Pickleballers! Of course, us in the North are hiding indoors now to
play our pickleball but that has given me extra time to compile more tips from the
pros to level up your game! Let’s get into it.
1. To Lob or not to Lob.
Why do you lob and how often are you lobbing? When I started, I was lobbing way too much and then I stopped lobbing altogether for a period. I’m not talking about the dreaded 3rd shot lobs, I’m talking about offensive lobs. Some people don’t use lobs at all and not many people practice returning offensive lobs. It can be a great shot to add to your game that can make your game a little different. Check out these three tips and demonstrations from Jordan Briones to get more of an idea of how to offensive lob.
2. You Move too Much
Sometimes I feel like I’m about to fall over because my footwork and positioning are so bad. I think we have all seen the person moving back and forth at the NVZ and you are just waiting for them to fall over with how off balance they are from their crazy footwork (ok this had been me a few times!) Every time you are out of position the problem compounds with every shot because you keep moving more until you are too far out of position to get the next ball.
We can help fix this problem by taking more dinks out of the air, when possible, to avoid moving more. Taking dinks out of the air solves the problem of getting out of position and reduces the time your opponent has before they must return the ball. You need to drill this concept to get the feel for dinking out of the air because it feels a lot different than taking the ball off the bounce.
3. Reset the Ball
You know the real skill that will take you far in this game is resetting the ball. Since I have made a concentrated effort in practicing resets my confidence and skill has seen drastic improvement. Being able to take a face-paced ball and return it over the net at a slower speed will boost your game fast.
Whether you are resetting the ball from the transition zone or resetting it from the NVZ you need to have soft hands. You need to loosen your grip pressure and take the pace off those fast-paced shots. You won’t get good at this overnight but trust me you want to get good at resetting. The other aspect of resetting that comes with time is when you should do it. This will be different for every person. My general rule is if I feel like I am losing a firefight because the ball is too far below the net I go for a reset.
Pickleball Journey does a great job showing you how to reset any ball.
4. Get That Serve and Return Deep.
Do you know what the first two shots in pickleball are? How often have you been practicing your serves and returns? These two shots are key to setting up the point and can lead to putting you in amazing positions or can lead to the point being over quickly. The depth of the serve and the depth of the return are the key factors to each shot. You want a deep serve and a deep return.
Your return of serve you want to keep deep but not too fast because you want to give yourself enough time to get to the net. Do you find yourself receiving a 3 rd shot drive low at your knees or feet because you didn’t make it up to the NVZ in time? You might be hitting your returns deep but with too much pace. I also try to keep my returns more toward the middle to give myself a bigger margin of error. If you do want to target a certain player there are two different thoughts on whom you should target.
One mindset is targeting whom you think the weaker player is because their 3rd shots won’t be as good. The other mindset is you want to hit it to the stronger player because it keeps them back longer and prevents them from poaching or shake and baking.
Do you have a backhand slice return? This is a key return shot you should learn to make your returns better and easier. Sometimes that low serve to your backhand is hard to return, but if you can slice it back and deep you will find yourself making it to the NVZ with ease. The good news is both shots are easy to drill with a partner and you can get a lot of practice in a short amount of time.
Check out this article that gives you a great way to drill in a game format.
Want to see my tips and reviews in video form? Check out my Tiktok below.