If you tuned into Championship Sunday at the 2023 Texas Open, you saw one of the best women's finals matches of all time.
Lea Jansen made Anna Leigh Waters appear human again and less like some pickleball-playing alien sent from another planet.
ALW got the win, but this match looked very different from previous meetings.
Lea joined It Feels Right this week to talk about the match. She unabashedly shared the strategy and game changes that made the difference:
For Jansen, it was all about taking away the angles:
- She elected to return the ball to the middle of the court to eliminate passing shot angles.
- The key was to keep these balls deep so the passing shot was coming from behind the baseline.
- Then Jansen could use the length of the court to her advantage instead of trying to play side to side.
Hitting the ball down the middle in singles may seem counter-intuitive. You're not making them chase the ball. But it does make hitting a passing shot more difficult.
This lends itself to more of a cat-and-mouse style match which is exactly what Jansen was aiming for.
If you're a singles stallion (kudos to you), try mixing this in to become harder to pass.
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If you're in the doubles-only club at least you can point at the screen and show off your pickleball IQ by identifying the strategy.
Just in case you're about to play some singles pickleball soon, here are some tips for better performance:
- Master your serve: In singles pickleball, the serve is crucial. Practice different types of serves, such as the power serve, topspin serve, or slice serve, to keep your opponent off balance.
- Stay patient and control the pace: Singles pickleball requires strategic shot placement and patience. Avoid rushing into aggressive shots that can lead to unforced errors. Instead, focus on placing the ball strategically, keeping your opponent on the move, and waiting for the right opportunity to attack.
- Develop a strong backhand: Since singles pickleball involves more lateral movement, having a reliable backhand is essential. Work on your backhand stroke technique and footwork to maintain balance and control during rallies. A strong backhand will give you more options and help you keep the ball in play.
- Utilize the kitchen and dinking game: The kitchen, or the non-volley zone, is a critical area in singles pickleball. Mastering the dinking game can give you a significant advantage. Use soft shots and angle your returns to force your opponent into difficult positions, setting up opportunities to attack.