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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Proactive Volleys

A couple of previous posts discussed the need for aggressive play. In a post about the softest shot, Dink Game Strategies, I stated:

There is one final element to an aggressive dink game – never back up unless necessary. Many players will step back when a shot is hit to their feet to take the ball on a short-hop. While this step gives you more time to assess your options, it also gives your opponent more time to prepare for their return. Maybe even more important is the mental aspect. An aggressive player takes the ball in the air while a passive player allows it to bounce. Always take a ball in the air when possible to keep your weight toward the net and to keep an aggressive frame of mind.

Taking the ball in the air is a volley and I followed up with Offensive Volleys that included:

The poke stroke and swing volley are incremental steps up in aggressive shot-making. The positive side of being more aggressive is hitting more winners and forcing opponents to make more errors.

Controlled aggression is part of a winning strategy. Being aggressive is an attitude that must start with the mind but also be present in body language. It is too easy to play pickleball in a relaxed way.  While that is great for social play, it will not work in a competitive match.
The negative side of aggressive play is the likelihood of more errors. While that violates the “keep it in play” principle to some extent, better players will exploit a continuous stream of non-aggressive shots. In that situation, some errors can be acceptable as long as the winning shots outnumber the errors. Be aware, though, the winner/error ratio will not be good when first implementing a more aggressive play strategy. It will, however, improve with continued use in play and practice.

The strategy includes benefits beyond the actual winners. No opponent likes facing an aggressive player who plays under control. Your aggressiveness puts pressure on him to make better shots, often outside his comfort zone. The attitude alone can lead to free points due to his mistakes from trying to make the perfect shot. Nothing is better than winning a point without making a play.

A short Deb Harrison video called Proactive Volleys follows that discusses the aggressive body language of proactive volleys.

The bottom line is that better players will be aggressive so anyone serious about improving their game must also be aggressive. The key is controlled aggression where a player doesn’t outplay his abilities. Dial back the aggression if too many errors result.  But it all starts with attitude…and that isn’t differentiated by ability.

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