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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The 3D Game

Previous posts have discussed the most important strategies of the first three shots of a rally - the serve, return of serve and third shot drop. Each of the shots can be practiced individually with drills, but drills can be boring. I recently came across a "game" that incorporates each of these shots called the 3D Pickleball Game. Before going into details of the game, let's review the 3 shots.

In Service Strategies, I stated:
The most common strategy is to land the serve deep (within 5 feet of the baseline) in the opponent’s service court. There are 2 reasons to serve deep. First, a deep serve does not allow the returner to build forward momentum. It might even cause the returner move back. By contrast, a short serve is an open invitation for the returner to move toward the kitchen line. The team that controls the kitchen line generally wins the rally. A deep serve helps to beat those odds. Second, a deep serve gives the returner fewer options to hit an aggressive shot. A deep shot of any kind, including the serve, takes away a returner’s angles.
In The Return of Serve, I stated:
The second goal of the return of serve is to hit it deep into your opponents’ court. This accomplishes several important results. First, it makes your opponents’ return more difficult by reducing their angles and options. Second, it gives you more time to get to the kitchen line. Third, it makes your opponents’ shot longer and gives you more time to adjust. Fourth, it makes it more difficult for your opponents to get to the kitchen line.
In The Third Shot, I stated:
This shot is essentially a long dink shot. It is a soft looping shot that peaks on your side of the net and lands in your opponents’ kitchen. Like a dink, it should be neither high enough to bounce above the net nor hard enough to reach your opponent without bouncing.
The 3D Pickleball Game is a named after the objectives of the game (with a little dramatic license). The 3 D's represent Deep Serve, Deep Return of Serve, and Drop Shot. The game requires each of these 3 elements to be accomplished before the rally is played out. This will be frustrating for some, but those players will come to recognize that the frustration is because execution of one shot makes execution of the following shot by their opponent more difficult. This highlights the importance of each shot in gaining a competitive advantage.

Prior to starting the game, some court preparation is required. Use painter's tape to divide the service court in half from front to back on both sides of the court. The tape should be placed parallel to the baseline about 7 1/2 feet away. This tape represents the Deep zone in which both the serve and return of serve must land.

Playing the game

As usual, the game starts with a serve. The difference between a regular game and the 3D game is that the serve must land in the newly created deep zone. A serve that lands outside the zone is a fault. A serve that lands in the deep zone allows the return of serve to take place.

Like the serve, the return of serve must land in the newly created deep zone. A return of serve that lands outside the zone is a point for the serving team. A return of serve that lands in the deep zone allows the third shot drop to take place.

The third shot drop must land in the kitchen. A third shot drop that fails to land in the kitchen is a fault. A third shot drop that lands in the kitchen allows the rest of the rally to play out as usual.

This game does take longer to play than a normal game so play to 7 instead of 11 should be considered.

The purpose of the game is show the value of placement and patience over power. These shots don't have to be hit hard. They can be all be soft, controlled shots. Each can be used to set up the rest of the rally to the player's advantage. This game shows the importance of each shot to its participants while working on the technical aspects without the boredom of drilling.

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