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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Controllables - Speed

Don't let opponents control you...

This is the second in a series from DJ Howard, an IPTPA instructor in Michigan. This post will include 2 of his Forum tips about the controllables of a pickleball. The first is an introduction to the series and the second focuses on the second controllable - speed.

Ballers, here is your weekly tip:

There are several things you CANNOT control about a pickleball- color, size, shape (no dura jokes here, please), weight, density, among others.

Meanwhile, there are only five (5) characteristics of a pickleball you CAN control. Does anyone know what all five are without looking below?

Listed in no particular order, they are as follows: 
  • Direction
  • Height
  • Depth
  • Speed
  • Spin
Each week for the next five weeks I will break down each one of the five characteristics that you are able to control and explain it in more detail.

This week in practice, control what you can and don't worry about what you can't control.

DJ's Weekly Pickleball Tip:

Last week I touched on "direction" as one of the five things you can control about the flight of the ball, today I'll touch on "speed".

It may go without saying, but a faster moving ball can be more difficult to track accurately. You have less time to process the exact location of the incoming ball. You also have less time to prepare your body and paddle position to receive the ball. In addition, it can be more difficult to handle the faster pace of the ball off of your paddle. This is why "bangers" do well, at least at the 4.0 and below levels.

But have you ever wondered why "banging" or "finesse" alone do not work at the highest levels?It's because many 4.5's, most all 5.0's, and literally all pros can control the speed of the ball they have received from their opponents. In other words, they can increase the speed of the ball off their own paddle, or absorb pace off of a ball they have received off the opponent's paddle. They are able to read the speed of the incoming ball and interpret a good response, whether it is to speed it up, match the pace, or slow it way down. It's why they are so good at "resetting" the ball and subsequently, the point.

There is a time and place to hit the ball fast, but there are also many times to slow down the speed of the incoming ball and reset the point.

There is a time and place to hit the ball slow, but there are also many times to speed the ball up and make it more difficult for your opponent to respond.

Make sure to practice varying the pace of your shots. Attempt to speed up or slow down the pace of your drives, drops, dinks, and serves. Also practice absorbing pace off fast shots to hone your blocking and resetting skills. Then you will add so much more to your game than if you only like to bang or just play soft.

Go to Controllables - Direction to read part 1 of this series.

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