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Monday, July 17, 2017

NVZ Footwork

The kitchen is not for dancing...

Let's continue our series on court movement. Last week we covered moving through no man's land to get to the NVZ line. The need to move does not end when the NVZ line court position goal is attained. It just changes. Instead of long strides and moving forward, NVZ line movement becomes side to side or quick steps forward and backward. This another topic that has been covered extensively and past articles can be found in Chapter 6: NVZ Play - The Dink. We will try to bring some new ideas to the discussion.

Mark Renneson's video Advanced Footwork at the NVZ provides his thoughts on the perpetual motion machine that players should become. He demonstrates a string of dinks while keeping his feet constantly moving through hops and shifts. Mark's theory is sound. It aligns with the science discussed by the Auburn softball team in Optimal Reaction. Movement quickens the reaction to move to the next shot and allows for getting the body positioned for consistent shots by being balanced. Images cannot capture the dynamism of Mark's presentation. Watch the video before we move on.

Do you see any problems with Mark's method? I see exhaustion looming for most players...unnecessarily. As I said, the theory is great. It might be necessary in a sport like tennis where the ball moves at much higher speeds than pickleball. Besides, the demographics for pickleball are such that players are not conditioned to maintain that level of energy for very long.

An alternative view is shown in Deb Harrison's video Posture, Footwork, Balance. Deb shows the basic movement to hit any dink or volley at the NVZ line. She emphasizes quick movements so the shot can be made from a balanced position without rushing it. The first movement is laterally along the NVZ line where she quickly moves two steps in each direction by moving the trailing foot to the lead foot but does not cross over. This is followed by a quick forward step to retrieve a short dink where one step is made and immediately returned to position behind the NVZ line. Similarly, a drop step is shown with one foot stepping back from the line and the body turning sideways. The foot is immediately returned to the ready position at the line. Finally, Deb adds the crossover step if 2 lateral steps are not sufficient to reach the ball.

Deb's footwork is more useful for pickleball and is used by top players of all ages. We will see a video of that tomorrow.

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