Just Hit the
BY JEFF ROSS
arrived at pickleball long past my athletic prime and not
I having played a racquet or paddle sport for more than 30 years . While there is some muscle memory , after such a long time and at a senior age , my body is exhibiting a bit of amnesia on that score .
Like any racquet and / or paddle sport , the key is to return every ball until your opponent misses . In other words , “ Just hit the ball !” Well … that ’ s easier said than done .
In my effort to become a better pickleball player , I realized there are several components to each and every pickleball stroke .
STEPS NEEDED TO “ JUST HIT THE BALL ”…
1 . Locate the ball – Focus on the ball as it approaches your opponent and watch it come off the paddle . Understand where the ball will be returned on your side of the court by quickly analyzing the angle of the racket and the speed of the ball .
2 . If the ball is headed your way – Know strategically and as quickly as possible where on your opponent ’ s court you would like to return the ball and what type of stroke it should be . To do this , you need to figure out where your opponents will be when your return shot gets to them . Will they be in the back court , near the kitchen , mid-court ? Will the shot be a strong power stroke or will it be a softer stroke into the non-volley zone ? This needs to be decided before the ball arrives at your paddle .
3 . Prepare for the return – Once you have decided which offensive shot you will initiate , you have to prepare your body to get to the ball , and in a position that will promote the appropriate stroke decided upon in the previous steps .
4 . Execute the shot – Get to the ball in the proper position and prepare the paddle to hit the determined shot , taking into account the angle , speed and position of your opponents based on previous decisions . Then , hit the ball . Phew … but you are not finished yet !
5 . Assume a defensive position – Once the ball leaves your paddle , you must visualize where it is going , anticipate a probable return , and either move toward an area on the court where the ball is likely to be hit or focus your attention in that direction with your paddle in the up and ready position .
6 . If the ball is going to your partner you are still not off the hook . Where should you be after your partner hits the ball and if the opponent hits an appropriate return ? Once determined , get there and start again at step 1 .
Is it any wonder I am tired after each pickleball foray ?! Pickleball is easy and simple . Anyone can do it . Just hit the ball ! •
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