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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

How to Win a Rally Without a Swing

Are you here to play or to watch...

I and several of the players with whom I play have talked about a bad habit we have allowed into our games - hitting balls that would go out of bounds. I think some of this is because it is recreational play and we just want to hit the ball. But we also know that it is not something that we want to carry over into tournaments. The reality is that playing percentage pickleball, a topic I covered in February, also means not hitting the ball at all. After all, it is a 100% sure win to let a ball go out of bounds.

Coach Mo, the creator of the term "percentage pickleball", wrote a Tip of the Month - How to Win 20% More Games Without Improving You’re (sic) Hitting Skills - about that topic.

You must anticipate and recognize early when your opponent ‘s ball will not land in play. There are things to look for before your opponent makes contact with the ball.

Always be aware of where you are on the court!

Things to look for in order of importance before your opponent touches the ball.
  1. Is the wind at your opponents back?
  2. Is your opponents’ contact point below the net?
  3. Focus on the face of your opponent’s paddle .is it too open?
  4. Is your opponent on the full gallop?
  5. Is your opponent an inconsistant player and a banger?

These tell tale signs must be on your mind every time your opponent is about to hit the ball.

If a ball is coming at you so fast that you think you will be lucky if you even touch the ball, never mind get back; do not hit it.

If you recognize early an out ball is coming yell to your partner “no”.a second opinion should always be welcomed.

Play some points with your friends and don’t keep score; let some questionable balls go, so you can learn to recognize out balls. If you recognize just two balls a game, your game will improve about 20%.

There are very few players who can hit a ball with exceptional speed and keep it in the court consistently. You should be able to recognize these players who cannot and punish them by letting all their bad shots go out of bounds.if you do,these players that have been beating you with out of control shots , will probably lose to you.

If a player realizes his opponent hits every ball hit to him, he should pick up the pace on his shots because he can be sure his opponent will always save the ball from going out.

The best scenario is that you have hit your best shot of the day at your opponent and all 5 of the above list are present, it is just about a guarantee that it will be out of bounds.

If you master the difficult art of recognizing balls that are going out of bounds then your game will quickly rise to the next level.


  1. Hi Paul,
    Timmy (Nasty) Nelson taught me that the only way to train your brain to see if a ball is going to be out or not is to let some marginal balls go by and see if they fall in or out. When we do drills (returns, 3rds, and blocks) we work on not hitting out balls and get lots of "Tim practice" seeing them in or out and training our brains to recognize these freebies. Just like any other skill in Pb this one takes practice.

  2. Jay,

    Good to hear from you. Good comments. Great minds think alike - check out Thursday's post!