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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Controllables - Spin

Don't let opponents control you...

This is the third 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 third controllable - spin.

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:

Thus far I've offered some tips on speed and direction as flight characteristics and how to use them effectively. Now I'll discuss spin.

Just as a baseball pitcher uses a curve ball along with a fastball to mix things up and make it difficult for a batter to track a baseball, it is possible to alter the spin of a pickleball to make it more difficult for your opponent to track and, therefore, more difficult to return well.

The most commonly used spin in pickleball is slice, or backspin (underspin). Slice typically makes the ball bounce lower upon hitting the court surface. It is a good idea to hit most dinks using a bit of slice for this reason - you want the ball to stay low on your opponent's side.

Many third shots are hit using some slice as well. Dave Weinbach as a great example of a player who uses backspin on third shots to keep the ball low when it bounces in the opponent's kitchen.

Topspin can also be very effective and, once learned, can allow you more opportunities to make it harder for your opponent to receive an incoming ball. Topspin creates a different trajectory thru the air than a slice - it arcs up and dips down more quickly. Topspin is being used more and more often on fourth shots and some low volleys. Many top players are starting to roll some topspin on their third shots as well. Kyle Yates is a great example of this.

Next time you go out to practice, try experimenting using various spins to see how the ball travels thru the air and to see if you can manipulate the spin to make the ball do what you want. Once you get comfortable using topspin and slice, you may even try to play around with some sidespin!

If you need some extra help learning how to perform slice or topspin, please see a qualified local IPTPA certified teaching pro. He/she should be able to help you!

Go to Controllables - Direction to read part 1 of this series and Controllables - Speed for part 2.

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