Land of the Sky Tournament information can be found by clicking on the button above.

Newcomers to the site should note the pickleball book "chapters" in the left column and the repository of expert articles and videos in the right column.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Targeting: The Experts on Depth

Be sure to positively identify your target before hitting the ball...

The past 2 Mondays have covered targeting strategies for the serve and the return of serve. Today would ordinarily be reserved for the third shot since this series is written to coincide with the topic of my skills & drills clinic held on Tuesdays. However, tomorrow's clinic has been deferred to next week. Therefore, I want to spend today reinforcing my articles with advice from experts. The targeting strategies for the third shot will be covered next Monday. 

Before I get to the experts, let me reiterate the strategies and their priority order:
  1. Get it in-bounds.
  2. Get it deep.
  3. Get it to the backhand or weaker player.
One of the most important factors to keep in mind is the limit of your skills. Move down the priority list only as your skills allow. That means practice and drilling to move down the list.

Now, let's move to the expert advice on priority 2 - depth. We will first check in with Deb Harrison who states that "The most important ingredient for both serve and the return of serve is depth." in her video Pickleball Tidbit: Depth.

Next, let's check in with Sarah Ansboury in her article Pickleball Strategy: Keep Them Back with the RV Picklers.
One of the best things about pickleball is the two bounce rule. This rule neutralizes the advantage a server would typically enjoy by forcing the serving team to remain at the baseline, while the receiving team captures the line. So rather than rushing to the line mindlessly, I want you to think about an all important pickleball strategy…keep them back! ...
Offense, Defense, and Pickleball Strategy
I’ve written before about the difference between being on offense, in a neutral position, or on defense. If you are not comfortable with these concepts, please take the time to read this post. It is important to understand the differences because these positions have a direct effect on what pickleball strategy you will employ.
When you and your partner are at the line first, you are on offense. You are in control of the point and as such your job is to keep your opponent in a defensive position. You don’t want to help your opponent.  You don’t want to neutralize your advantage. As such, you don’t want to invite them forward…rather you want to keep them back away from the net. Hitting a shorter ball, that allows your opponent to come forward helps them.

Sarah also has an article in her own blog titled Return of Serve in which she adds to her thoughts.
Return of Serve:  A Shot You Hate to Miss
I hate to miss a return of serve, and so should you. Think about it:

  1. You know the ball is coming to you;
  2. In 99% of the cases, the ball is only a step or two away; and
  3. You have a pretty big area to hit it into (since both players are at the baseline).
So when we don’t return the serve effectively it is more likely that we weren’t focused or tried to do too much with the ball. Both of these things are mental mistakes, not physical…not swing mechanics.
Focused Return of Serve Practice
If you have a practice partner, he or she can practice adding variety to their pickleball serves as you practice your return of serve. Specifically, I would suggest that your practice partner hit a variety of different serves while you practice hitting each ball to the same spot. Let me suggest that you first focus on hitting deep to the center of the court.

  • Hitting Deep to the Center is always great because it may cause confusion between the partners.
  • Confusion leads to balls that are less well-struck and slows down the team from moving to the non-volley zone line.
Once you have developed confidence in your ability to hit deep to the center of the court, aim closer to the lines. Remember, there will be times when you and your partner want to focus on returning the ball to one opponent. So it is important to be able to direct the ball to either player at will.
Finally, Pballvideos has a video called Deep Returns showing the strategy implemented in an actual match.

No comments:

Post a Comment