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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What is an Illegal Serve

I don't have to play by these rules, I actually have my own version...

I occasionally run across a player who stretches the limits on serving rules. Most of the time there is no real advantage gained, but sometimes there is. We discussed one method to address an illegal server yesterday. We will get another method later in this series. Before taking these steps, we should be certain that the serve is actually illegal. Below is a video from Keith Bing called Legal & Illegal Serve that shows serves of both types.

Keith illustrates an illegal service motion that breaks all 3 rules - 
the paddle is not moving low to high, the paddle face is not below the wrist, and the ball is nor struck below the waist. While Keith illustrates all 3 rules being broken, a serve is illegal even if only one rule is broken.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Illegal Server - One Tactic

Psychology in sports makes people crazy...

Last week I posted a Mark Renneson video about pickleball stereotypes. Readers probably thought that was a fun video but that nothing would come of it. Actually, a lot of discussions can be provoked by the behaviors shown. Today, we will start with a discussion of dealing with an illegal server. Jeff Napier has written about a ploy he successfully used on one occasion in his article A Bit of Psychology.

A Bit of Psychology

Correcting An Opponent’s Problem

Pickleball for me is normally about fun, and building skill, but I’m not above a psychological trick or two when it makes sense. A couple of years ago, I tried something that worked well, so I’ll pass it along:

This is going to cost you a point, but may win many points shortly thereafter.

There was a player who was going way too far with the “Arizona serve.” This is the kind of serve which is much more of a forehand than an underhand serve. As you know, the pickleball rules call for the ball to be hit below the waist, or more specifically, below bellybutton height, with an underhand stroke or at least with the hand below the wrist (if that can be done with anything other than an underhand stroke). In serious competition, a forehand serve would be called a fault, but in much of modern pickleball, it is considered OK. But today, this person was winning points on an aggressive serve. Or at least putting some players in a position where their returns were less than ideal.

So early in a game I purposely served a ball with a too-high forehand stroke, then immediately stopped the play, calling a fault on myself.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day 2017

A hero is somebody who voluntarily walks into the unknown...

Today is not a day for writing or reading about pickleball. Today is about remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to create and sustain the freedom that allows us to play games. So, whether you are grilling hot dogs or playing pickleball today, take a moment to think about and thank our fallen heroes. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Offbeat Sunday: Peppy the Pickle on Food

Peppy gets very nervous at a picnic...

Aspen Kern manages the Pickleball Forum and contributes a character he has created - Peppy the Pickle. Today's Peppy feature is about food. After all, Memorial Day is around the corner and everyone will be celebrating the first day of summer with a picnic.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Pickleball Stereotypes

Dude, stop. You're justifying the stereotype...

You've seen them. You've played with them. You might even be one. Pickleball stereotypes like the apologizer, the celebrant, and the super-intense. Mark Renneson has seen them too...and made a video highlighting some player types called Pickleball Stereotypes.

Friday, May 26, 2017

2017 St Jude National Indoor Classic Results

You earn medals at practice. You just pick them up at tournaments...

Some local players participated in the St Jude National Indoor Classic earlier this week in Cartersville, GA. Photos are from Facebook.

Paul Coletta went 4-0 in Mens Singles 65+ 4.5 & 5.0 and won the gold medal.

Lucia Delchamps and Melissa Ownby went 2-2 in Women's Doubles 3.0/3.5 50+.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

2017 Get off Your...and Play Pickleball Results

You earn medals at practice. You just pick them up at tournaments...

Some local players participated in the Get off Your...and Play Pickleball last weekend in Peachtree Corners, GA. Photos are from various Facebook pages.

Scott Siewert and Jon Kenary went 1-2 in Men's Doubles 4.0 50+.

Bruce Birdsall and David Kelly went 1-2 in Men's Doubles 5.0 All Ages.

Teri Siewert and Dave Esqueda went 1-2 in Mixed Doubles 3.0 All Ages and won the bronze medal.

Congratulations Teri!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Keep Your Eyes on the Ball - A Drill

Keep your eye on the ball - even if you can't see it...

Keeping your eye on the ball is hard. It really takes a lot of focus to maintain direct vision from the point of an opponent's contact until making contact with your own paddle. The method discussed in yesterday's post seems contrarian in that it espouses keeping your eye on the contact point post-contact. That would seem to necessitate even more focus. It takes practice and today's drill will show you how to improve this aspect of your game. We will again turn to the tennis world for this drill. The video we will review is from Ian of Essential Tennis and is called Watch the Ball: The Drill.

Target Drill

Description: The drilling player stands in the forehand court at the NVZ line. His drilling partner stands at the opposite baseline. A target is set up near the intersection of the NVZ line and sideline in the forehand court of the drilling partner. The drilling partner feeds easy balls so the drilling player is hitting forehand volleys. The drilling partner hits volleys toward the target while never looking at the target. The drilling player focuses on the incoming ball to the point of contact with his paddle and then maintains focus on the point of contact for 1-2 seconds post-contact.

Goal: This exercise trains the player to focus on the ball through contact, thus allowing for a better shot with clean paddle contact.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Keep Your Eyes on the Ball - How to Do It

Keep your eye on the ball - even if you can't see it...

As we have learned, keeping your eye on the ball is easier said than done. Coaches talk about the need to do it but I have rarely seen anyone talk about how to do it. I will mention the one exception I've seen below. But today we will turn to the tennis world to get some ideas how this is done. The video we will review is from Ian of Essential Tennis and is called How To Watch The Ball Part 1: The Process.

Ian spends quite a bit of time in the video explaining how the field of vision is divided between "focused vision" and "peripheral vision". In a separate article, Ian writes:
The human eye is able to view almost 180 degrees of vision. Out of those 180 degrees, only two or three of them are actually finely focused and used for daily tasks such as reading, driving, or whatever else your “focus” happens to be on at the time. I often demonstrate this to lessons by picking up two tennis balls, each with a different number on them. I present one to the student about 3 feet away from their eyes and ask for their focus to be on the number of the ball, and to keep it there. I then take the second ball, and start about two feet away from the first one, and ask if they can read the number on the second ball without moving their eyes from the first. The answer is always “no”. Then I slowly move the second ball towards the first, to see how far away they can read the number without moving their eyes. Most students can read the second ball once it gets about 2-4 inches from the first. Thats it! From three feet away, you’ve got about 3 inches of focused eye sight. If that small percentage is not locked on to the ball as it is traveling towards you and meeting your strings, you’re using blurry vision to see the ball, and sometimes (depending on your habits) no vision at all! Your focused vision will ONLY stay on the ball if you move your eyes along with the ball through out its path to your racket.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Keep your Eye on the Ball to the Paddle - the Real World

Keep your eye on the ball - even if you can't see it...

Keep your eye on the ball. We have seen the coaches talk about it. We have seen that science says it is impossible - at least in some circumstances. Now we will continue our discussion by looking at what happens in real play. We will do this by reviewing 2 Pickleball Channel videos that show the moment of impact and give a pretty good idea of where the eyes are looking. The first video is called The Forehand with Slow Motion - Scott Moore.

As the title suggests, the video shows Scott hitting some forehands off of easy shots from his drilling partner. As we discussed yesterday, these shots are slow enough and of such a distance (note his position behind the baseline) that Scott's eyes can follow the ball the whole way to the paddle.

Now watch the video and pay particular attention to Scott's eyes.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Offbeat Sunday: Pickleball License Plates

If I only knew then what I know now...

I love the Pickleball Forum - for much more than the fact it provides material for my Sunday fun posts. Here is another example.

Pickleball License Plates


Saturday, May 20, 2017

2017 Four Season Senior Games Results

You earn medals at practice. You just pick them up at tournaments...

Henderson County held its Senior Games pickleball competition on Friday, May 12. It was the best attended event yet. The medalists are shown below.

Women's Doubles

Ages 60-64
Gold               Winston Kobe - Nancy Rader
Silver              Deb Romaine - Sally Rollins
Bronze           Susan Swayze - Barbara Wehrly

Ages 65-69
Gold               Beth Corn - Joanna Nache
Silver              Annie Bubnis - Lin Kolb
Bronze           Maureen Heaphy - Carol Palmer

Mixed Doubles

Ages 50-54
Gold               Jen Kemp - Rick Griffis
Silver              Beth Corn - Chris Lamb

Ages 60-64
Gold               Susan Swayze - Denis Romeo
Silver              Joanna Nache - Paul Aaron
Bronze           Winston Kobe - Larry Appleby

Friday, May 19, 2017

Keep your Eye on the Ball to the Paddle - the Science

Keep your eye on the ball - even if you can't see it...

We will continue our discussion about keeping your eye on the ball by looking at what science says about the concept. You may or may not be surprised depending on your own experience with the technique.

The source for the materials discussed below is Catching Flies And Hitting Fastballs Have A Lot In Common and Baseball Brains - Hitting Into The World Series, both from 80 Percent Mental Consulting. 

Most studies on the concept of keeping your eye on the ball have involved baseball and that is topic of these articles.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Keep Your Eye on the Ball to the Paddle - Part 2

Keep your eye on the ball - even if you can't see it...

We started discussion yesterday about keeping your eye on the ball based on an item from The Best Advice You Ever Got. Today we'll show another example of a coach preaching the philosophy.

This video comes from Keith Bing and features Coach Cat. It is called Keep Your Eye On The Ball.

Keep Your Eye On The Ball from Keith Bing on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Keep Your Eye on the Ball to the Paddle

Keep your eye on the ball - even if you can't see it...

Last week we used an item from The Best Advice You Ever Got to go into detail on the "paddle up" instruction philosophy. This week, we will use that same source to discuss another instructional philosophy - keep your eye on the ball.

This must be the single most universal instruction in all of "ball" sports. From the first time baseball players grab a bat, they hear "keep your eye on the ball". The same is true of tennis, football, and all other sports, including pickleball. One example is shown below in a Tip of the Month from Coach Mo (my emphasis added).

DO: Make a split step at the point of contact of your opponent's shot. A split step is when both feet are shoulder-width apart and parallel to each other. DON'T: Always try to hit the ball while backpedaling or running forward.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

2017 YONAH PLAY? Spring Classic Results

You earn medals at practice. You just pick them up at tournaments...

Some local players participated in the Yonah Play? Spring Classic a couple of weekends ago in Cleveland, GA. Photos are from the tournament Facebook page.

Todd Headley and John Todd went 6-1 in the Men's Doubles 4.0 Age 33-59 and won the gold medal.

Congratulations Todd!

Monday, May 15, 2017


Regrets, I have a few...

Have you ever regretted a decision even before the event? Maybe you accepted a blind date and only then learned that the date was recently released from prison. Or maybe you promised to take your spouse on vacation and only then learned that you would be unable to attend the Super Bowl with comped tickets.

I was experiencing similar feelings at about noon last Friday. But the story starts on Thursday (or before) with a series of mistakes.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Offbeat Sunday: PB Fans

Some call fanaticism an irrational obsession...

I stumbled across some memes on Facebook, probably on the Pickleball Forum but I don't recall for sure. Anyhow, they seem as crazy about pickleball as I am.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

What is the Proper Paddle Position?

Being different isn't a bad thing...

So where are we in learning about the proper positioning of the paddle when at the NVZ line and anticipating your opponents' shot. We know that lots of players think that "paddle up" is the best advice that they've received. We know that several well-known instructors teach the "paddle up" concept. But we also know that many pros do not use the technique when they play. That dichotomy makes it hard to reach a conclusion.

When instructors teach the "paddle up" technique, it means the paddle is held at chest level or higher and out in front of the body. Mark Renneson demonstrates the position below.

Note that Mark is demonstrating the most extreme example with paddle at nose level just below the eyes. That conforms with the "paddle tracking" technique taught by Sarah Ansboury.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Reality of "Paddle Up"

Reality is humbling...

We learned yesterday that Sarah Ansboury's "paddle up" technique is rarely used by the top pros - in a video from Mark Renneson. What Mark's video missed was whether Sarah herself uses the technique. Again, the reality might surprise you.

I reviewed some recent matches that Sarah played and found that she almost exclusively dropped her paddle to waist level and often to her side. The photos below show her typical positioning while waiting for her opponents' shot.

Sarah (lower left) in February's President's Cup

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Are Pros Different?

Sometimes fantasy is better than reality...

Now we know how much Sarah Ansboury emphasizes the "paddle up" position that we everyday players so often take as the fantasy ideal. Mark Renneson has done an analysis of the pros to determine if they use the technique in the real world. The results might surprise you.

Mark has learned that many pros do not use the paddle up technique at all. Some examples follow.

Glen Peterson

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Hard Habit to Break

Ego can be your enemy...

Finally, today's post will end the Sarah Ansboury lessons on keeping your paddle up. Ironically - or maybe not - the article is about Sarah performing a self-analysis of her play and finding that even she has has fallen into making the deadly mistake of dropping her paddle. She states that it is a hard habit to break. We will learn in a couple of days that it may be even harder than she admits.

A friend commented recently that I wasn’t playing like I was teaching at the past Nationals. So I took a step back and did some analysis. Today I’ll share with you the pickleball lessons I learned in the process.

Pickleball Lessons Learned:  Start with Analysis

We all have a tendency to forget the basics…forget the things that enabled us to have success. So when several different people commented that they didn’t see me doing the things in competition, that I emphasized in my lessons and clinics; I had to do some analysis. Fortunately, it is pretty easy for me to find videos of my tournament play so it is just a matter of having the courage and taking the time to do the analysis.

I took some time in early December to analyze the video…comparing my play in April 2016 with that from this past fall. It isn’t always fun to do this. Frankly, it is easier to spot weaknesses in someone else than in yourself. But it is critical if you want to maintain what is working, and improve in other areas.

Pickleball Lessons Learned

The first thing I noticed was my body. I was much stronger at the beginning of last year. I was just in better shape. So in December, I started forcing myself to workout more. To get my body stronger, to improve my stamina and flexibility. By remaining committed to this fitness routine, I will be better prepared to weather those long tournament weeks.

When I am teaching, I focus so much on body mechanics and how to use your body properly. It was frustrating to watch myself not using my body effectively. I wasn’t using my legs enough and not tracking the ball as well as I should. I always tell my students to capitalize on their strengths. In my case, this is my forehand and by staying offensive. What I observed was I was taking away my own forehand, and separating my feet from the ground too much. This prevented me from remaining balanced and caused me to make too many mistakes.

Frankly, I hated every moment of the analysis because I know better. I know I should take care of myself, I know how to set up points. I know what I want to do…but I saw myself unfocused and off balance too often.

One Step Backward, Two Steps Forward

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