Pickleball Magazine 1-3 | Page 10

PICKLEBALL INSTRUCTION 7 ‘HIT TO THE MIDDLE’ SECRETS EVERY PICKLEBALL PLAYER SHOULD KNOW (PLUS Skill LevelSpecific Targets for Players of All Levels) I f you’ve been playing pickleball for any length of time, you’ve probably been told by some player to “hit to the middle.” Hitting down the middle is often an excellent strategy, but it’s also frequently misunderstood and incorrectly implemented. First, let’s talk about WHY it is a good idea to hit to the middle in general. #1) Hit to the Middle Because the Net is Lower There Basically, you’ve got three options: hit in front of you, hit to the middle, or hit cross-court. As long as you are hitting to the middle, you’ll still be able to take advantage of the fact that the net is up to a full 2” lower in the middle, which means 8 you’re less likely to hit the ball into the net. And that is always a good thing. #2) Hit to the Middle Because it Takes the Angle Off There’s a time and a place for sharp cross-court dinks or sharp angles down the sideline, but unless you are VERY accurate and can end the point with your sharp angle, most of the time hitting a sharp angle just leaves your partner’s sideline wide open for your opponent to take advantage. When you hit to the middle, it limits your opponent’s options and helps you keep control of the point. Now, let’s talk about what hitting to the middle really means… TO SUBSCRIBE CALL 724.942.0940 OR GO TO THEPICKLEBALLMAG.COM #3) Hitting to the Middle Does NOT Mean Hitting to the Middle OK, to clarify: maybe when your frustrated partner grumbles under his/ her breath “Hit to the middle!” they mean to hit to the middle of the court. But that’s only because they haven’t learned this particular nuance. I’ll say it right now: Don’t hit every shot to the line in the center of the court. It’s not that simple because your shot placement MUST always take into account where your opponents are. Well, for some of you, especially those with more racket sport experience, this might be obvious; but, for many players, especially when you are just starting out or working on a new skill, you focus so much on hitting a