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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Controllables - Height

Don't let opponents control you...

This is the fourth 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 fourth controllable - height.

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.

Now for your weekly tip:

In addition to the other ball flight characteristics we have discussed (speed, direction, and spin), also consider the HEIGHT of the ball you are trying to hit.

It may go without saying, but I'll say it anyway, cuz I'm like that. Most third shot drops and dinks should be kept low. However, make sure your margins aren't TOO small. If you find yourself hitting the ball into the net too often, consider opening the face of your paddle and raising the height of the ball more, rather than simply hitting harder.

Also, think about throwing in a few lobs on occasion, a la El Condor, Enrique Ruiz. It can be a great way to take control of a point. If done well, it pushes your opponent back to the baseline and will give your team an advantage in court position. But you must get the height of the ball right! You don't want to make an unforced error by hitting too deep or hitting too low and having the ball smashed right back at you from close range. Ouch!

Another good option to consider is to hit a high arcing deep serve return that allows you to get up to the kitchen line and make it more difficult for your opponent to hit a great third shot.

Next time you go out to drill or play, pay attention to the height of your drops, dinks, and returns, and don't be afraid to practice a few lobs when the situation is right.

Go to Controllables - Direction to read part 1 of this series Controllables - Speed for part 2, and Controllables - Spin for part 3.

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