Newcomers to the site should note the pickleball book "chapters" in the left column and the repository of expert articles and videos in the right column.

Chapters were revised May 9, 2017.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Rules Clarification - Player Bumped into NVZ

If confusion is the first step to knowledge, I must be a genius...

Players love to talk about rules, especially esoteric rules. i have been posting about some situations that I faced as a referee. Now I will venture beyond my personal experience into the experiences of others. This post relates to the always-confusing momentum rule and the NVZ.

Let's look at a specific situation. Alan and Barry are partners. A ball is hit to them such that Barry thinks he can poach it. However, it is volleyed by Alan before Barry reaches it. In the process of going for the poach, Barry's momentum carries into Alan and they collide after Alan has made the return. The collision knocks Barry into the NVZ after separation between the players occurs. The question is whether this is a NVZ violation. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

"2 in 1" Drill

Make drills fun...

This post is the next in the series of Jordan Briones' drills. While this one differs in that there is no scorekeeping for a competition, the 2 players do switch positions from feeding to drilling based on success or failure in the drill. 

This video (the sixth), Pickleball 3rd Shot Drill | "2 & 1" Drill, covers shots from the dink to the 3rd shot drop. To set up the drill, both players start at the NVZ line on opposite sides of the net but in the same half of the court. This drilling game will use only 1/2 of the court for boundaries. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Options: Step Back or in the Air

You can't judge my choices without knowing my reasoning...

Pickleball is a series of choices. Players have options about how to approach a shot - backhand or forehand. They have a choice of type of shot - drive, drop, or lob. They have a choice of targets - crosscourt or down the line. These are only some examples. Depending on the advice followed by the player, some choices are minimized. Such is the lure of experts whose advice adheres to what worked for them or the most technically correct strategy. This post is the first of a series offering options to traditional thoughts. It can either make your pickleball life either easier or harder. The choice is yours.

One of my earlier posts, Dinking Secrets to Success, discussed 3 techniques to win the dink game. Two elements had similar reasoning - reduce the time for your opponent to react. The first technique discussed in the video is the one for which an alternative will be presented. In the video (shown below), top player and coach Steve Dawson explains that taking the ball in the air when possible is the best choice.

Monday, December 11, 2017

What Advice Should You Consider?

Trust what you see, not what you hear...

A recent Pickleball Forum discussion got me thinking. I contributed a couple of comments to the discussion and wanted to show them to readers of this blog. But, more importantly, it brought to mind a couple of issues. The first is whose advice should you trust. The person who started the discussion seemed to imply that consideration of any pickleball advice should be related to the advice-giver's skill level. It later was apparent that it was more of a rant than his actual thoughts. But a great discussion ensued. That issue and discussion is the subject of this post.

A second issue will be addressed in a series of posts to follow.  I will not say too much here except that different coaches advise different techniques or strategies for a given situation. How do you know which option to choose? We will discuss some of those situations.

For now, though, let's address the Forum discussion from my perspective. Here was the kick-off post:
Suggestion: If you're giving pickleball play advice/instruction on the forum, put your skill level in parenthesis at the end of your post/comment so people who don't know any better can estimate how big a grain of salt to take your advice with. I see a LOT of questionable advice on the forum and don't have the time/motivation to respond as often as I would like to. Thanks in advance.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Saturday, December 9, 2017

November Beginner Clinic Photos

Experts start as beginners...

A beginner pickleball clinic was recently held at the Henderson County Athletics and Activity Center. Four players were introduced to the game by Henderson County USAPA ambassador Deb Romaine and local volunteer extraordinaire Larry Formicella.

With only 4 players and 2 courts, I was able to pull players away to work on specific problems. I had a great time and the players seemed to appreciate the individualized attention. All players were enthusiastic about pickleball and greatly appreciative of the instructions by Larry, as am I.

Some pictures of the clinic follow.

Friday, December 8, 2017

3rd Shot Drop Drill

Make drills fun...

This post is another in the series of Jordan Briones' drills. As with his other videos, he makes this drill a game. This makes what otherwise can be a task into a fun exercise, meaning we all are more likely to do it. 

The fifth video, Pickleball 3rd Shot Drill | "0 to 60" Drill, covers the 3rd shot drop. To set up the drill, one player (the feeder) starts at the NVZ line and the other player (the driller) starts at the opposite baseline but in the same half of the court. This drilling game will use only 1/2 of the court for boundaries. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Touch and Feel Drills on your Own

Without touch, you're a banger...

But how can you drill if there isn't a wall? Maybe you're at home or, ahem, in your office when the pickleball bug bites. Again, Chris Wolfe has the solution. There are some things you can practice with just a ball and a paddle. These might remind you of the tapping exercise used at beginner clinics, but the same exercise done with a purpose can help develop touch. Thus, the name of the video is Improve Your Pickleball Touch and Feel - Self Drills.

Chris starts with a simple paddle tap, forehand, backhand, and varying heights.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

USAPA Nationals on Television Delayed

Reaching the masses...

CBS Sports was scheduled to televise 2 hours of the recent USAPA Nationals tonight. It was announced yesterday that the telecast will be delayed until the afternoon/morning of December 23. Hope you can move your pickleball party.

A 2-hr. special of this year’s USAPA National Championships will be broadcast nation-wide on the CBS Sports Network on Sat, Dec. 23 (11 am CST). Check your local cable or satellite provider for channel numbers and availability

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Backboard Drills Part 2

The wall never loses...

Yesterday's post discussed some basic wall drills for beginner through advanced players as resented by Joe Baker. Joe has a second video for several very specific shots that we highlight today. Joe's second video is Backboard Wall Drills for Pickleball Volume 2.

Again, Joe emphasizes the importance of drilling to improve your game. He states that practice time is at least 10 times more efficient and effective than playing time.

Third Shot Practice

Monday, December 4, 2017

Backboard Drills Part 1

The wall never loses...

Pickleball progress is incremental, accomplished by finding a weakness and working to correct it...or even make it a strength. One method to make that happen is to drill. But drill partners are hard to find. There is, however, an exception. It is not too hard to find a wall. Having said that, what are some effective wall drills? We will let Joe Baker lead us through some in his video Backboard Wall Drills for Pickleball.

Before getting into the drills, Joe makes some great points worth highlighting:
  1. To improve in almost any sport, you must increase practice time rather than playing time.
  2. When hitting against a wall, you will hit 7-10 times more balls per minute than playing a doubles game.
  3. You can focus on specific shots repetitively.
Drills for Beginners

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Offbeat Sunday - Do Millenials Know Pickleball?

They are our, really, they are...

A bunch of millenials were asked about pickleball. The answers are either funny or scary, depending on your perspective.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Tournament Schedule Update - December 2017

Life's a game. Play it...

North Carolina Pickleball has updated the upcoming tournament schedule for players in the local area. Don't forget our Land of the Sky Tournament next July 6-8. We haven't yet added it to this list.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Re-learning Movement at the NVZ

Learning something new pushes something old out of my brain...

When I started this blog, one objective was to chronicle my path of learning the game. I have tried to do that even as the learning has slowed. Today is another one of those educational experiences. 

I have been working with a friend to help become more consistent at dinking. I am fairly good at dinking balls that have a normal bounce and dinking balls that I can take in the air. (That is a secret I will discuss on another day.) I can also hold my own on harder, penetrating dinks at my feet or to my paddle hand side. My struggles are with the hard and low crosscourt dink to my backhand side, especially when forced to move a couple steps from near the centerline.

The first training videos I watched to learn the game were from Coach Mo. He had a video about moving at the NVZ line in which he showed a crossover step to extend a player's reach. A screen capture from his video is shown below.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Rules Clarification - Service Position

If confusion is the first step to knowledge, I must be a genius...

One question that I have seen/heard several times is about the boundaries restricting from where the serve must be hit. In particular, the question of hitting the ball by reaching across the imaginary extended centerline is frequently asked.

A visual might help to explain. The following image shows a server in a typical position somewhere between the extended sideline and centerline with the paddle also within the same boundaries.