SENIOR VS. YOUTH
After dinking the ball low and short,
make sure you keep your paddle up and
out in front. By dinking short and low
you are only allowing your opponents
to hit high. So learn to block all the
balls that are coming right at you. This
block will usua lly be done by using your
backhand. If the ball is hit hard between
you and your partner the forehand player
should block it back. Learn to block all
these shots down to your opponent’s feet.
Since you hit the ball short and low, you
should be able to block it back down.
Dink most of the balls to the middle.
By hitting the middle you are taking away
a lot of the sharp-angle dinks. Remember,
we don’t want this to be a speed contest.
If you hit sharp angles to young players,
they will probably easily get to the ball
and then hit another sharp angle back
and make you run. They may even hit a
winner around the net post!
Buy time! Remember the young players
are quicker than you are. So, anytime you
are being pulled off the court, hit a dink
back so you can buy some time to get
back to your correct spot on the court. If
you are being pulled wide and just hit a
hard ball, your senior partner will be left
all alone on the court. Another example
of a way to buy time is learning to hit a
dink when a lob has gone over your head.
Don’t just panic and run after it and hit
a lob back or, even worse, hit a hard ball.
Learn how to dink that ball.
This shot is no different than a 3rd shot
dink. The odds are better when you dink
the ball back after a lob has been thrown
over your head. You can buy yourself
time when hitting this shot by letting it
almost fall to the ground before you hit
If you just try to volley a ball hard from
the middle of your court you have just
allowed the younger players to play the
reflex power game to their advantage.
Don’t lob from the baseline... and
maybe don’t lob ever. If you are lobbing
from the baseline you are just letting your
younger opponents hit the ball down and
make you run! I would rather you learn
to hit a dink from anywhere on the court
so that you can reset the point and turn
the game into a dinking game. I have a
mental list of players back here in Oregon
that I will almost never lob to. The only
time I can possibly get a lob over these
top young players is by hitting a volley lob
just over their heads while they are riding
the kitchen line and leaning forward.
Even then they might jump straight up
and smash it.
Be consistent! Get rid of as many
unforced errors as possible. You may not
be as athletic, but you can learn good
mechanics and cut down on errors.
Make sure your senior partner
understands these strategies and is
willing to play this way. Both senior
players must be on the same page to
make these strategies work.
A Couple of Strategies When Your Partner is
the Young Player
• Be willing to take much less court.
Remember your partner is faster than
you; let him/her take most of the court.
I always hear weaker players say, “It’s
not fair that I don’t get to cover half
the court.” Just remember that even
though you are taking a smaller section
of the court, you will still be hitting
most of the balls.
• Since you won’t be taking up so much
court you should be able to easily dink
the ball into good positions that might
give your younger partner a set-up.
• Your job is just to keep the ball in play
and not give your opponents pop-ups.
I think you will enjoy trying these
strategies, and at least you should find
that your points are much longer and
your matches are a much better challenge
for the young teams. You might even pull
off a couple of upsets! These strategies
could also give you more tools when
playing against the other senior players
Learn to hit volley dinks from
anywhere on the court. This allows you
to reset the rally so that you are able to
get to the net and resume the dink game.
Left to Right: My longtime pickleball partner Randy Bither, who is now a senior player like myself, next to
Kurtis Campbell and Rob Davidson. We are fortunate we get to practice with and against these extremely
talented young players, just to name a couple of young guns from our area!
JUNE 2016 |