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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Drop Volley Against Bangers

Deception is a tactic...

The past couple of posts have described the basic volleys used to defend against bangers. After those volleys are learned, it would be a great idea to add a little deception. Bangers typically feel most comfortable hitting low hard balls from the baseline. Because they can overwhelm many players with their power, they have not developed a complete game - including the ability to anticipate shots nor to hit balls on the move. 

When opposing players are on the baseline, one strategy is to hit a drop shot that they will struggle to reach if they even try. Deb Harrison has another video called Pickleball: Drop the Ball Against Bangers that describes the drop volley techniques  we will review in this article.

The drop volley is hit from the same body position as the block and punch volleys. The difference is in the paddle position and movement. Deb discusses 2 different drop shots defined by amount of paddle movement. The first is called the feather drop because it is hit lightly and with slight backspin. The paddle slices under the ball, making contact with the bottom. The paddle position extremely open with forward movement.

The second drop shot, called the Kyle drop, is much more extreme in it movement and adds much more backspin as a result. The Kyle drop has the paddle in a much more closed position. It is nearly flat (parallel to the net). From that position, the paddle movement is straight down, brushing against the back of the ball rather than the bottom.

The Kyle drop is a very difficult shot used by few players. It must be timed perfectly or the player can look pretty foolish as the ball hits their midsection.

Drop shots when opponents are back can work if properly executed. But a poorly executed shot, i.e., a shot hit too hard, can draw your opponents to the kitchen line. That eliminates the positional advantage you had. One way to help avoid that result - even with a bad drop shot - is to keep driving your opponent back with a swing volley before using the drop. Deb demonstrates that strategic sequence at the end of the video.

The swing volley was the subject of a previous article called Offensive Volleys. It included Deb's video Swing Volley, Defending Against Bangers, Part 3 as well as the following text:

If the longer movement of the poke stroke can add pace, why not go for even more pace with a much longer swing. The swing volley does exactly that as a hybrid between a punch volley and a groundstroke. The feet and body are positioned like a volley, i.e., an open position with the torso facing the direction of the ball. However, when making the swing volley, the body turns (at the hip) away from the ball during the backswing and then closes when the paddle arm swings across the body as described in The Forehand Ground Stroke. 
The power of the shot is generated from the shoulder turn and torso rotation and not the step associated with the groundstroke. The ball should be struck in front of the body with a firmly locked wrist. The intent of the shot is to drive the ball past the opponent or overpower his ability to make a return.
The swing volley from the kitchen line is difficult due to the perfect timing it requires. The player is close to his opponents and their shot will arrive much more quickly than for a baseline groundstroke. A more compact swing – especially the backswing - is important to compensate for the speed of the ball. As always, practice, practice, and more practice helps to get the timing right.

The drop volley techniques are explained in the following video.

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