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Five Keys to Executing a Perfect Midcourt Reset

by Eric Roddy on

One of the most important and difficult shots in pickleball is resetting the ball from the midcourt.

It must be executed to near perfection, otherwise your opponents will be able to continue to attack you and keep you from the kitchen. Being able to hit consistent resetting drops from the midcourt is a crucial skill to have when progressing up the pickleball ratings ladder.

Here are five keys to help you master this tough shot.

Keep your butt and paddle down

APP touring pro Jim Dobran harps on this essential tip more than almost any other lesson-giver out there. He tells his students to get themselves and their paddles as low as they can.

Think of yourself as an infielder in baseball fielding a ground ball.

Your backside and paddle should be as close to the ground as possible. As the ball comes to you, it's a lot easier to go from low to high than high to low. Most shots in pickleball are hit best when you are lower to the ground.

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Open the paddle face and get under the ball

Now that you are in a good ready position and have your paddle down, it’s time to consider how much to open your paddle face. Remember, in pickleball, every change in grip, paddle face opening or closing, or movement should be subtle.

It doesn't take much to completely change the arc and trajectory of your shot.

Since your opponents will likely be generating a lot of pace with an aggressive shot, you should focus on making good, solid contact and bunting/blocking the ball back.

To do this, you’ll need to get your paddle under the ball and have the face slightly open. Just slightly, because if it's too, you'll pop the ball up. But, having it too closed will cause the ball to go straight into the net.

This may take a bit of practice, but when you do hit a great reset take note of just how open you have the paddle face. Try to replicate this over and over again.

Absorb the majority of the pace

Because your opponents are hitting the ball down toward your feet, it will always have a great amount of pace on it. The key to hitting a soft, unattackable reset is to not try to counter with any power but instead absorb and use your opponent’s power to softly bump the ball back over the net and land it safely in the kitchen.

I like to think of this shot as catching an egg in an egg toss.

You don’t want to extend or push your paddle or arm towards the ball, but rather let it come to you and almost cradle it. Redirect the ball using the pace being generated by your opponent, and softly arc the reset back over the net.

Aim resets cross-court and middle

One mistake I often see amateurs make is trying to reset down the line or directly in front of them. There are two problems with this.

One, the distance between you and your down-the-line opponent is shorter, meaning you will have to hit a better quality reset than if you hit it to the middle or cross-court. 

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Second, the net is higher on the sides than in the middle. Even though it's just two inches, it can make all the difference between getting a ball back over and hitting the tape.

Instead of going straight, try to aim your resets to the middle or cross-court.

Not only is this an easier shot to execute, but the added time it provides can help you and your partner get to the kitchen or in a better position for the next shot.

Never drive more than once

Almost all amateurs, at every skill level, drive the ball too much. I get it – it’s fun, it’s technically easier, and it often results in easy points. That being said, as you get better, you never want to drive from the midcourt. 

Driving a ball from midcourt is a challenge for even the best players in the world. It's easier to hit the ball out of bounds and, because you're still far away from your opponent, they have plenty of time to react to your drive.

It's only a good play if the ball is high enough to drive it down. If you’re fortunate enough to get a ball like this while in the midcourt, drive it. But plan on hitting the next shot as a reset to give yourself time to get up to the kitchen line.

If you are an avid pickleball driller, odds are you have played this game. Have your drilling partner line up opposite from you at the kitchen. You should stand about 2-3 feet inside the baseline (slightly less than halfway from the baseline to the kitchen).

Have your partner feed a difficult, aggressive shot to your feet, and practice hitting resets. When you’re warmed up, play the game out. You have to score seven points before your opponent scores eleven. Play this game down the line and cross-court then switch roles after each game.

Bonus Tip

Go back to your Little League baseball days and field ground balls.

It’s rare, but sometimes, even I burn out from playing too much pickleball. When this happens, I like to play other sports to give my mind a break but stay active. I grew up playing baseball. Earlier, I compared hitting a reset to fielding a ground ball in baseball. 

Go to your nearest baseball diamond or in your backyard and practice fielding ground balls with someone. Your partner can either throw them or hit them at you.

Practice getting low and having your glove on the ground to handle any weird bounces. This drill is as close as it gets to hitting a reset with perfect technique and is a fun cross-training break from pickleball.

Enjoy the grind, and remember, you can’t dink all day if you don’t start in the morning.

Eric Roddy

Eric Roddy

Eric is a PPA tour pro living in Charlotte, NC, sponsored by PROXR. In addition to playing PPA events, he teaches pickleball 2-3 hours a week, enjoys golf, and listening to his favorite band Goose.

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