Land of the Sky Tournament information can be found by clicking on the button above.

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.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Follow the Ball

A while back, I wrote a series of posts about moving as a team. The first of these posts - Moving as a Team - Let's Stay Together - discussed forming a "wall" by positioning partners about 6-7 feet apart and moving together. A later post - Moving as a Team Part 1 - At the Kitchen Line - discussed where the wall should be positioned based on the court position of the opponent who hits the return.

I recently ran across an article that explains the same concept a little differently. I really like the catch-line that explains the concept in a simple phrase - "Follow the Ball". The article is from rvpicklers, self-described as a couple of retired women who live in The Villages but travel in their RV to play pickleball. The article follows and can also be found at their website

Pickleball Mantra: Follow the Ball

It’s been quite a while since we posted anything about pickleball.  We had intended to play in Austin during our visit but the rain delayed our arrival and curtailed outdoor play.  There are indoor places to play in Austin, but unfortunately during SXSW everyone jacks up the price of rental cars.  So we decided to post one of the most important pickleball mantras we ever learned:  Follow the Ball.

The pickleball team on right is in correct position.

Follow the Ball

I suspect this is also a tennis mantra, but since I don’t come from a tennis background I learned it from a very talented tennis, turned pickleball, coach who lives in The Villages. (Thanks Tom!)  “Follow the Ball” means exactly that.  If the ball is hit down the left sideline one partner covers the left sideline and the other shifts toward the center line.  When the ball is then hit cross court, closer to the right sideline, both players shift to the right, often times causing the “center” player’s foot to literally be on the T of the non-volley zone (NVZ) line.

You and your partner move in tandem right or left based upon the movement of the ball regardless of what side of the net the ball is on.   It is as if a rope was tied to you and your partner insuring that at no time are you no more than 6’ apart, side to side.   Of course moving like this on EVERY shot burns more calories than just standing in the center of “your box”.  But if you watch the top players you will see that they do just that.

Even it you are Slow, You can Follow the Ball

But never fear, even if you are less mobile than these young titans, you can still incorporate this rule into your play in several ways:

1.  If you are at the NVZ line when your partner is receiving serve and s/he hits the return straight or down his/her nearest sideline, you shift till your foot is on the T.

2.  Likewise, if you are at the NVZ line when your partner is receiving serve and s/he hits the cross court, you must shift to cover the sideline.  No running required, just step to one side or the other.

3.  If you are serve returner, your approach to the NVZ line should “Follow the Ball”.  E.g. If you return the serve cross court you must favor the middle….just follow the path of the ball.

You may not be able to run to the line, but you may not have to because you will be in the correct position to cover their return.

No comments:

Post a Comment