We all know what it’s like to get the ball slammed at us over and over.
It’s not great. You spend more time apologizing to your teammate than actually hitting the ball over the net.
And we all know what it’s like to slam a nice, attackable shot, too. It’s pretty great.
In the first instance, we don’t think for a second the opposing team should feel sorry for us and dink the ball back over the net, right? And in the second instance, we don’t think for a second that we should take it easy on our opponents by hitting the ball softly into the kitchen, right?
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So, how do we keep from doing more of the first situation so we can increase our chances of doing more of the second example?
You gotta slow it down.
No one is going to dink the ball to you if you don’t force them to, so let’s think about ways to get your game slowed down.
One of the things I like to work on with my students is hitting the ball into the non-volley zone from all areas of the court with the pickleball coming at them from all different directions. The idea is, if you can slow the ball down from an awkward angle after your opponent hits a tough shot, you’ll be able to slow it down anywhere at any time in an actual game.
It’s simple to work on, too, and you can get a lot out of it.
How to drill
Stand about three-to-four steps inside the baseline with one foot on the sideline. Your partner for this drill will feed you the ball from the opposite side of the court, diagonal from you at the NVZ line.
Now, if you’re the one feeding the ball, start easy. Hit some shots at your partner’s feet and have them “reset” the ball into the NVZ in front of you. Make sure the person you’re feeding the ball to hits a few in a row in the NVZ. Then have them do the same thing, only this time having them hit a volley (not letting it bounce). Now, mix up the kind of shot you hit at them. Make some higher or lower. Maybe even hit a few that might be going out to see how your partner reacts.
The goal here is to have the person hitting all the shots cross-court into the NVZ. Finally, have your partner hit a shot into the NVZ and then try to transition forward to the NVZ line on their side of the court. Play out the rally. Now, switch sides and do the same thing again.
Slowing down the ball from the back-third of the court is a great way to get yourself positioned to move toward the NVZ. It’s also a great way to avoid being slammed, too.
And isn’t that what we really want?