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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Third Shot Footwork

Getting the fundamentals right...

The Jordan Briones Primetime video series continues from a different position - the baseline. Today's post uses his video Pickleball | Essential 3rd Shot Footwork to show how proper positioning will help to make your third shot drop more consistent

The fundamentals of any consistent shot, especially the third shot drop, consist of hitting the ball in the same place every time. I talked about this extensively in the December 16, 2017 post Positioning and the Natural Swing. I stated:
I believe that everyone has a natural swing. The swing that you took the first time you touched a paddle was likely your natural swing. You performed it without thought and used what felt comfortable. Ever since that day, your swing has been influenced by your mind as it adjusts your swing to fix mishits and misplays and to add others' technical advice...
The principle of a natural swing is simple. It is all about comfort zones - something I have talked a lot about in this blog, especially when targeting spots to take your opponents out of their comfort zone. The same theory can be reversed when thinking of yourself. Getting yourself into a position to take your natural swing is the ultimate comfort zone. That's a place you want to be.
Jordan talks about hitting the drop shot in your comfort zone, i.e., not reaching and not allowing the ball to get too close to your body. It is the area when you are balanced and most in control. In order to always contact the ball at the same point, it is imperative that you move your body to the proper position. This takes anticipating the ball's path and and getting your feet positioned early.

Jordan presents a simple drill to practice footwork - put your paddle aside and catch balls fed by your partner. Try to move and get your feet set early. Then catch the ball at the point where your paddle would contact the ball. Have your partner move the ball around - short, left, and right.

I know this post is about footwork but I would like to point out one more aspect of the video. Note how low Jordan is contacting/catching the ball. He is allowing the ball to descend after the bounce. This makes him hit the ball upward so it starts its descent before it reaches the net. It is more difficult  to hit a high ball upward so players end up hitting a flatter ball in an attempt to have it drop just past the net as its pace slows. This is called a "dying quail" and is hard to consistently hit with success.

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