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Friday, April 7, 2017

Reinventing my Game - Progress Exposes another Dink Problem

Change is hard, then messy, then good...then messy again...

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post - Reinventing My Game - A Temporary Setback - in which I discussed my failure to bend to make a dink or low volley was causing me to pop the ball up. That knowledge allowed me to fix that problem immediately and I have not had a problem since. Now it is time for me to bare my soul and discuss a follow-up problem.

Once I determined that my basic dinking was acceptable, I wanted to move to the next step and become a more aggressive dinker. I started drilling with better players willing to help me. That meant they were dinking more aggressively to me - with more pace at or near my feet. Suddenly I had the opposite problem than my previous setback - I was either hitting the ball into the net or wildly out of control. I even hit my foot with the paddle more than I care to admit.

That last little tidbit should been the clue that gave away my problem, but I can be a a tad obtuse when I have to think about my own play. Her is a hint of my problem.

When my paddle was hitting my foot, it was hitting the toe because I had my weight back. I could not even imagine that possibility since I was bending my knees and getting low. But I was apparently lowering my backside too far.

The same friend that pointed out my failure to bend also pointed out that I needed to get my weight forward over the balls of my feet.

Since I thought I was already doing that, we discussed the best way to ensure that it actually happens. The ideal solution is to keep active feet. It is nearly impossible to have your weight back when your feet are moving. Of course, this is not news since I wrote exactly that in In Pickleball...Movement is Not Optional. The post includes two videos, from Mark Rennesson and Sarah Ansboury, both of which show the active feet used in NVZ line play.

The issue that my friend and I discussed is that we not as young as those players. It is much more difficult for us to remain so active over the course of a game, especially over the length of a tournament day. My solution is to stay active as much as possible with an emphasis on it when playing aggressive dinkers. I take my breaks when I can - against softer players or just when needed. Even when not actively moving my feet, I try to remember to keep my weight forward. But this solution is far from perfect as I still get caught unready for that darned foot shot.

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