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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Training for Better Third Shot Decisions

Muscle has memory: the body knows things the mind will not admit...

I cannot calculate how many times I have said (or thought) "I was thinking too much on that shot" after a poor hit. While more options are generally a good thing, there are times when too much of a good thing can be detrimental. One benefit of a targeting strategy is that options are reduced. Targeting eliminates entire sections of the court and focuses on only a limited number of areas. This allows fewer thoughts to complicate the decision-making and also allows muscle memory to take over. 

But targeting does not eliminate all important decisions. One that remains is the drop versus drive decision on the third shot. But Mark Renneson has a training method to create the memory necessary to make the decision more instinctive and less of a coin-flip.

Mark's training method is shown in a video titled Pickleball Decision-Making Training: 3rd Shot Drop vs. Drive. The drill is a simple one based on one simplifying premise - drop if the return of serve is deep and drive is the return of serve is short. The drill is set up by dropping markers about 5 feet inside the baseline. A player, in the role of a serving team, waits for the return to be hit. If the player is forced to stay behind the markers, he yells drop and hits a drop. If the return allows him to go past the markers to hit the third shot, he yells drive and hits a groundstroke.

One element of the drill is to focus on its intent and not the result of the shot. Don't worry if the ball is hit into the net or out of bounds. Focus on the decision-making so that it becomes second nature.

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