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Good Shot or Bad Positioning?

by The Dink Media Team on

You hear it every game at the 3.0-3.5 level and you also hear it after nearly every rally, but is it true?

Think about it for a second, when someone says, “Good shot,” how often was it truly a good shot?

Maybe people are just being nice and cordial and complimentary, which is fine, but they aren’t telling the truth, that's for sure. There just really aren’t that many good shots in a game.

I was once told, there aren’t bad shots, there is just bad positioning, and the more I’ve thought about it, the more it makes sense.

When you hear, “Good shot,” it’s likely because someone was in a bad position.

Let’s go through it real quick.


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Serving in Pickleball

The shot that was returned deep into your corner and forced you to hit a third shot that resulted in your opponent swatting flies? Did you serve it deep? OK. Good. But where were you standing when it came back to you? If you were crowding the baseline or in front of it, you were out of position. That’s not them hitting a good shot, that’s you in a bad spot which turns into an easy smash for them.

Returning a serve

When you returned serve, were you crowding the line again, or did you leave enough room for you to step into your return? Did you return it deep, or did you allow your opponent to move in on his or her third shot and hit a drive to your toes?

All of the previous results lead to you scrambling and being out of position. Most importantly, if you don’t move up to the non-volley zone line after you return serve, that third shot by your opponent could mean a ball comes at your feet, then you pop it up. You know what happens then by the time the ball leaves your paddle. They smash it and you say, “Good shot.” If you’re at the line, you’ll be able to block it or even smash it back. If you’re not, you could be in big trouble.


Transitioning to the Non-Volley Zone

Moving up after a great third-shot drop is good if you can do it, but moving up too fast when a drop doesn’t drop in the right spot gets you in trouble and causes a wild response on your part. You’re out of position again, right? Not a bad shot, just a bad spot on the court. Move up when it’s time to move up, don’t run into enemy gunfire. Stay back and try to get the next shot to drop.

Dinking at the Non-Volley Zone

Get close to that line. No reason to hang back and let a ball bounce in front of you that you could grab out of the air. The more shots you can dink out of the air, the more choices you have. If you’re too far back, you end up reaching and getting off balance and then the pop-up happens, the “Good shot” statement is said and you lose the rally.

All of the above are examples of situations you can control. Be mindful of your position on the court. If you are, you won’t have near as many problems. The better your position, the easier it will be for you. Can you win points from awkward spots? Of course, but if you make it a point to be in the right spot, the rest is easy.

Andrew Gilman is the teaching pro at the Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club

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