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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Pickleball PEP Talk - the Keys to Success

The more disciplined you become, the easier pickleball gets...

This might be the most important post I have written in nearly 2 years of blogging. I have been playing pickleball for over 3 years and studying it for nearly as long. I have studied techniques and strategies. I have read and listened to the best in the game tell me what I need to do. I have taken pieces from each that make sense to me. But I have not grasped a simplified concept to the keys to success...until now. 

Bu what is a simplified concept without an acronym? So here is what I came up with - PEP. As hard as I tried to honor Peppy, I was unable to come with a "Y" word. PEP works better anyhow, because the fewer keys to remember, the better.

PEP stands for Positioning, Execution, and Patience. There is a lot of detail underlying each of these. Those details are the subject of books, videos, and this blog. But details do not matter without an understanding of their appropriate application. These keys help to understand that application.


Positioning primarily refers to two issues - being in the right place on the court and getting your feet/body in the right place to hit the shot. Being in the right position on the court demands an understanding of several strategies including:
  1. The importance of controlling the NVZ line.
  2. Your position relative to your partner - proper court coverage.
  3. Your position relative to the ball - when to cover the middle vs. the alley.
Getting your body into position to make the shot demands an understanding of this effort including:
  1. Forehands are generally better than backhands.
  2. Hitting within one's comfort zone results in better shots.
  3. A balanced shot allows for quicker recovery to a proper position.
Making the best shot is the single most important goal on every play. It sets the entire way the remaining rally plays out. Proper court positioning makes it easier to get your feet in the proper position to make the best shot.

Execution of the Shot

Execution is all about understanding the goal of the shot and the technique required to hit it. This requires:

  1. Deciding whether the ball is attackable or unattackable.
  2. Knowing the target of the shot.
  3. Using the muscle memory developed from practice to hit the ball with the appropriate paddle angle and touch.
  4. Knowing the proper positioning and techniques for the shot.

Patience is the discipline to always hit the right shot. It requires constructing the point while building the advantage until an attackable ball presents itself. Patience requires confidence in one's ability to outlast the opponent. This means practice, practice, and more practice. It also means fitness is required as more movement is demanded with more shots.

For me, these 3 keys are the secret to success. A perfect synopsis is a Facebook post from Aspen Kern. His post associated with the following video was:
"Practicing footwork, moving opponent side to side waiting for high dink to put away"

Positioning = "Practicing footwork". 
Execution = "moving opponent side to side".
Patience = "waiting for high dink to put away".

There is not a better way to wrap up this post than that.

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