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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Pickleball Strategies and Shot Selections

I previous wrote that I am in the process of becoming a certified pickleball instructor through the International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association (IPTPA). My last post - Basic Pickleball Strokes - discussed a set of basic elements of good pickleball strokes developed by the IPTPA founders. This post switches toward strategies and the list developed by that same group. The following is based on that list.

1. Respect the net (hitting every ball over the net will minimize your net errors and lead to more success).

2, Serve Deep and once mastered direct to different target areas.

3. Return Deep and once mastered direct to different target areas.

4. The return team should approach the NVZ line right after the return of serve.

5. The team that controls the net controls the point.

6. If your team is at the net and the opposing team is at the baseline, KEEP THEM BACK by volleying each shot back deep.

7. The 3rd shot drop in the kitchen is the preferred 3rd shot.

8. The 3rd shot is the serving teams first opportunity to approach the net. You should not automatically rush the net.

9. Earn your way to the net- This is determined by how good your 3rd shot drop is. If you´ve hit the ball too far be prepared to hit a 5th or even a 7th drop shot before moving to the NVZ line.

10. Do not aim for the side lines, give yourself a cushion of several feet.

11. Dinking the ball to your opponent should make up the majority of shot attempts.

12. Develop consistency and patience at the NVZ line.

13. Do not attempt a put away unless the ball is a minimum of 1 foot above the net.

14. Winning pickleball is the result of hitting the ball over the net and allowing your opponents to go for winners.

15. Play safe, consistent, and defensive pickleball.

16. Utilize the middle of the court between your two opponents for safety as the net is 2" lower in the middle.

17. Hit to the open space between your opponents.

18. If the ball is below the net drop the ball in the kitchen, if the ball is above the net hit to your opponents feet.

19. Move as a team while following the path of the ball will keep you in the proper court position.

20. Once your team is at the NVZ line, maintain your position and minimize moving backward unless lobbed.

21. If lobbed immediately turn side ways with your paddle arm up and scratching your back while side stepping back. Your other arm should be pointing up toward the ball. Do not back pedal backwards.

22. Open communication with your partner is important, ie. Mine, yours, switch, out.

23. Staying positive and encouraging your partner will lead to greater success.

24. When at the NVZ line the player who has his forehand to the middle of the court should take all balls on his side of the court plus 12-18 inches across the center line.

The group agreed that these basic elements represent "high percentage winning pickleball" that should be utilized by players at the 3.5 skill level and below. Beginning players who watch videos of 5.0 level players fail to recognize that these players have developed advanced strategies and skills beyond the basics. But always remember that walking comes before running. Learn the basics first.

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