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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Playing Against Bangers

Its time to do a reset...

We learned yesterday that bangers can expose our weaknesses. So what is the first step to counter them? Sarah Ansboury and the RV Picklers has an article in which she tells us that we should learn to block the ball and reset the point.

Rarely does a day go by that a student doesn’t ask for help playing against bangers. They might say, “I don’t know what to do when someone slams the ball at me.” Or, “I need to learn to block it.” Perhaps they say, “I hate playing against bangers.”

Regardless of how they might phrase it, the need is always the same. If you want to have success, you must learn how to block the ball so that you can reset the point.

Playing Against Bangers: Resetting the Point

First it is imperative that you understand that there are three types of shots in pickleball: neutral, offensive and defensive.
  • A neutral shot isn’t intended to disarm your opponent or win the point. Rather, it is simply a high percentage shot that continues the current momentum of the point. In most points, the majority of shots are neutral shots.
  • An offensive shot is intended to gain the advantage, either by catching your opponent off guard or by hitting a ball they can’t possibly return.
  • A defensive shot might occur when you are out of position and simply want to recover, or when a ball is blasted at you. In this case your goal is the keep the ball in play, and ideally to “reset the point”. Blocking a ball smashed at you is the best way to turn a defensive shot into one that brings you and your partner back to even, or neutral, with your opponent.

Playing Against Bangers:  Learn to Block

Though our first tendency may be to hit the ball back harder, this is rarely the best strategy. If you are off-balance or flinching, it is unlikely you will hit your best shot. Instead, your goal at that moment is not to “win the point” but rather to “reset the point”. To do this, you must learn to block. In this video, I review the keys to blocking.  As you watch notice these 3 keys:
  • The paddle is very still and flat;
  • Though in front of me, the paddle is fairly close to my body; and
  • I hold my position well after the ball leaves the paddle face.
Keep in mind, as you improve and play with stronger players, your need to reset the point will only increase. So blocking is something you need to continue to practice. If you have questions after watching the video, please contact me on my website. I love getting your comments and questions.

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