Making the move from a 3.5 to 4.0 player takes more than just skill. Many times, we see a 3.5 player join in a 4.0 group, and immediately bang away, using only power to win the point. Why is that?
One reason is that they have probably been playing against players in the 3.5 category who have just improved from 3.0, and quite frankly have enjoyed being one of the best in their group or tournament bracket. Winning points with power against weaker players is easy.
Another reason is that mentally, people tend to think that stronger is better. Sometimes it is, when used at the right time, but certainly not always. Improving players need to learn when to use their power most effectively.
Not only do players need to improve their paddle skills and embrace a combination of soft shots and power, they also must put more focus on the mental aspect of their game. Strategy is key at the upper levels of pickleball. You might score a few points with power against a higher level player, but quickly they will adjust, and you’ll find yourself getting beat at your own game.
Here’s a few things to remember while you play your next game.
- Getting to the kitchen line is your goal. Most points in good games come at the kitchen line. Continually driving the ball from the baseline will only keep you back and away from the kitchen line longer. It will also either keep your partner back as well, or if they move up, they will become a target. Opponents will be at their kitchen line, just waiting for you to make a mistake.
- Remember this phrase, especially when you are at or near the kitchen line, “When it’s low, hit it slow. When it’s high, hit it hard.” Of course you are going to attempt a put away with power when a high ball comes at you! But if the ball is below your waist and you have to lower your paddle to hit it, your better choice would be to hit a soft, well placed dink.
- When you are near or at mid court or at the kitchen line and hit a drive shot, one of two things will likely happen. Either the ball will go into the net, or it will sail high, offering your opponent an easy overhead put away. However, more experienced players will recognize that your shot is going long and let it go. Another phrase to remember, “Shoulder high, let it fly.”
I’ve said it before in other posts, I’d rather lose a game with someone who is working on getting better and misses some of their drop shots, than one who won’t try to hit them in a game for fear of losing.
Lastly, remember that when you hit a ball hard at your opponent, they are using their reflexes to get to the ball and will often return the ball without even trying. Make them work for their return shot by changing up the pace and placement of your shots.
Becoming a better player involves learning new shots, incorporating power and touch to your advantage, seeing a wider picture on the other side of the net, identifying openings, and using strategy to take advantage of weak spots. That’s when pickleball really becomes fun!
FOLLOW Crazy Pickleball Lady! Enter your email address, and get a notification when I’ve made a new post. Your email is not used for anything else.
Then, SHARE with your pickleball friends on Facebook and Twitter!