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Sunday, June 3, 2018

Recycle Sunday - Pickleball Statistical Analysis - Getting to the Net

A blast from the past...

This week's Recycle Sunday article was originally published February 13, 2016.


My post on Pickleball Statistical Analysis mentioned 5 areas of the game that were observed and evaluated by Noel White. The fourth of these 5 areas was the service team getting to the net. The conclusion (Results Nutshell) reached by Noel was:

100% of the teams that take a conservative approach to getting to the net never make it to the medal rounds. Approximately 20% of the playing teams take a conservative approach to coming- to-the-net, while in the serving mode. This low-risk approach to the net (waiting for the perfect drop shot, etc.) results in playing defense from the back 1/3 of the court over 50% of their serving time.
90% of the time conservative getting-to-the-net teams (while serving) lose to equal or better competitive teams. A few conservative net-approach teams played defensively from the back 1/3 of the court over 60% of their playing hits when serving.

Yet again, the data is overwhelming.  Teams win games by getting to the kitchen line. Staying back is a huge disadvantage.  In my earlier post You. Must. Get. To. The. (No-Volley) Line, Prem Carnot stated:

If you want to improve your game (and not just keep beating the same people you always beat) you HAVE to get up to the kitchen and play from right behind the no-volley line.

Since the data is clear, why do some players stay back? Noel had discussions with conservative teams whose general thoughts were “…. if we go to the net before we have hit a good shot (drop shot) we are going to get pounded.” In my experience with players of various levels, this discomfort is especially true of tennis players who are used to backcourt play. 

The bottom line is that players who want to win must get to the kitchen line.  In order to do so, a returning team must develop a third shot drop as well as the confidence to handle the quicker action at the net. 

Noel made an observation that said the latter is not as needed as the former. Confidence in net play should not be an issue if his observation is accurate.

"I did watch each former “conservative” serving team play as receiving team. The strange contrast was to see how effective all three of the conservative to-the-net serving teams were when they were at the net as receivers. All three teams played strong games when on receiving net offense. Then when they went back to serving it was struggle, struggle … all over again."

So work on that third shot drop and charge to the net!

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