The ability to read body language is an undervalued part of pickleball. The sooner you know what shot is coming, the better you can prepare.
When you jump on the court with someone who just started playing, it is pretty easy to see what they are going to do with the ball. You know if it is coming fast or slow based on their body language.
Senior Pro Champion Steve Dawson has a tip to disguise your body language and keep your opponent guessing:
Dawson suggests that your dinks look exactly like your speedups. A speedup from the kitchen does not require a big wind-up. Just a quick acceleration at the last second.
If you haven't broken the habit of using a big swing, try to recreate the same swing path and motion on your dinks.
As Dawson shows in the video, his dink swing path is compact and so is his attack.
It's never a bad idea to film yourself playing. If you get some gameplay recorded, be sure to review if your attack is indistinguishable from your dink.
And if you need some help staying honest as you review your form, we have an app suggestion for you: Unforced Pickleball.
The shot tracking app lets you submit video of your match for analysis by a real person at Unforced HQ, or to track your shots manually to gain valuable insights.
Check out our recent article on their app here.
Here are a couple more quick tips for disguising your body language mid-point:
- Maintain a consistent stance and body position: If you always position yourself in the same way, it becomes difficult for your opponents to anticipate your shots based on your body language. By staying balanced and using the same setup for different shots, you can keep your opponents guessing.
- Incorporate deceptive shot techniques: You can either "fake-out," pretending to hit a certain shot but change it at the last moment, or try to pull off a "no-look shot," where you intentionally look in one direction but hit the ball in another. These techniques can create uncertainty and force your opponents to react late.
Remember, practice is crucial for developing shot disguises and body language techniques.
Incorporate these tips into your training sessions and matches, and gradually refine your skills to become a more unpredictable and deceptive pickleball player.