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.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Re-learning Movement at the NVZ

Learning something new pushes something old out of my brain...

When I started this blog, one objective was to chronicle my path of learning the game. I have tried to do that even as the learning has slowed. Today is another one of those educational experiences. 

I have been working with a friend to help become more consistent at dinking. I am fairly good at dinking balls that have a normal bounce and dinking balls that I can take in the air. (That is a secret I will discuss on another day.) I can also hold my own on harder, penetrating dinks at my feet or to my paddle hand side. My struggles are with the hard and low crosscourt dink to my backhand side, especially when forced to move a couple steps from near the centerline.

The first training videos I watched to learn the game were from Coach Mo. He had a video about moving at the NVZ line in which he showed a crossover step to extend a player's reach. A screen capture from his video is shown below.

This step made sense to me as a former tennis player and some of my baseball training from 40+ years ago. But I am now re-learning NVZ line movement and see how problematic this move is. Let's look at another screen capture to illustrate the problems.

The first issue is that the player's choice of shots has become limited due to his body and paddle position. His only real option is to go down the line, especially when closer to the top sideline in the situation I described above. A crosscourt shot requires significant wrist manipulation. This reduces almost all possibilities of a consistent shot.

The second issue is that the player's back is to the position to which he must return after his shot. Again, remember my description of my struggle. I am standing near the NVZ and centerlines in the left service court. I am moving one or two steps to my left to return a low hard crosscourt shot. From this body position, it is nearly impossible to get back to the starting position if I do hit a crosscourt shot. If I return down the line, I must count on my partner to have moved with me and, even then, I would have difficulty getting into position for a return back to me. The down-the-line opponent is so close that time is reduced.

The movement that I am trying to learn is one taught by Deb Harrison in her video Footwork at Non-Volley Zone, Deb Harrison. She discusses moving parallel to the NVZ line while maintaining a forward-looking body position. She begins the move by pushing off with outside leg, i.e., the leg opposite the direction the player wants to move. She brings that leg to the side of the inside leg and then moves the inside in the same direction. She describes this move as "Quick Quick". It allows her to quickly move 3 feet to one side while keeping her body in position make her choice of shots. The next 3 images show the move from start to end.

The video shows the move much more clearly.

Learning this is difficult for someone who such an ingrained instinct to make a crossover step. It requires a lot of focus and seems unnatural while learning. I suspect it will not be automatic for quite a while.

No comments:

Post a Comment