particular shot to a particular place that you forget to see where your opponents are and what they are doing .
This is particularly common when people are learning to hit a drop shot . They attempt to hit the third-shot drop shot no matter where their opponents are . But a drop shot is only the best shot when your opponents are at the net . If your opponents do not come up to the net , then do not hit a drop shot . Keep them deep !
If you are blindly aiming for a particular spot on the court without considering where your opponents are , chances are you might be hitting it directly to them , and , at the very least , you will miss out on an opening because you literally aren ’ t looking for it . So what should you do instead ? Hit to the MIDDLE of the AREA between your opponents .
If your opponents are each positioned exactly in the middle of their side of the court , then it would happen that you would be aiming near the centerline of the court . But most of the time , the spot you should be aiming for will be left or right of the center of the court .
Now , for newbie to beginner players , go out and practice that before applying the next tip . Because the reality is , even though it ’ s best to hit to the middle of the two players …
# 4 ) Don ’ t Always Hit EXACTLY to the Middle of the Two Players
Like I said , if you ’ re just starting out , don ’ t even bother worrying about this . But for novice to advanced players , it will probably help to hit slightly off-center from the middle of the two players , slightly toward the person with the backhand in the middle ( assuming you have two righties with better forehands than backhands ).
No matter what level player you are , sometimes you ’ ll be playing against opponents who both have strong shots toward the middle ( for example , a rightleft combination with good forehands
HIT TO THE MIDDLE
in the middle , or two righties , one who prefers the forehand and one who prefers the backhand ).
These are still good times to hit to the middle because chances are , they will BOTH go for it and confuse themselves . Which brings us to point # 5 …
# 5 ) Hit to the Middle to Construct Your Point
Now this is key . This is where pickleball can start to be like chess .
Yes , your opponents may get confused when you hit to the middle , but don ’ t be disappointed if one of them manages to get the ball back over the net to you because , grasshopper , you are smarter than that .
You were not hitting to the middle to win on that shot . You hit to the middle to set yourself up for an even better shot down the road .
And it is that second ( or even third or fourth shot ) after you hit to the middle ( when your opponents are still off‐balance ) when you can take advantage of their teetering stance or their open sidelines to take your winning shot .
Now , we ’ re closing in on our last two hit-to-the-middle secrets .
# 6 ) Hit to the Middle Because it Keeps Your Partner in the Game
If you ’ ve watched the national matches , you ’ ve likely seen those long cross-court dinking rallies where two players are hitting on the diagonal , back and forth , while their partners are doing their very best to stay awake .
Well , when you have four top players on the court , that is sometimes the way to go . But whenever you hit a sharp cross-court shot , your opponent will probably return that shot to you , which makes it very difficult for your partner to even reach the ball , and it also puts a lot of pressure on you to make sure you are consistent and keep the ball in play .
When you hit to the middle instead , you open the possibilities back up . When your opponents are returning from the middle , you or your partner can be ready to hit the next shot , which will often be a put-away .
JUNE 2016 | MAGAZINE 9