A game in pickleball usually comes down to which team makes the least number of unforced errors. And, pickleball players oftentimes make unforced errors (i.e., mistakes) when they are moving. This is because it more difficult to hit a moving pickleball when you are moving yourself. For instance, when moving, players may hit may hit the pickleball behind their bodies, rather than out in front of their bodies.
Putting these together, it is important for you to avoid moving while making contact with the pickleball, which you can do by employing a split stop or split step before your shot to make sure you make contact with the pickleball out in front of your body. It is also important to force your opponents to move in order to force your opponents to make more errors on the pickleball court.
To force your opponents to move on the pickleball court, try the following 5 tips:
- Never hit the same shot twice – One of the easiest ways to make your opponents move on the pickleball court is to mix up the placement of your shots. You have A TON of options when it comes to shot selection on the pickleball court. For instance, you have dinks, drops, drives, volleys, lobs, speed-ups, etc. Further, with each of these shots, you can hit with different locations, depths, spins, speeds, and more. So, it is important to use all of these options and mix it up—including with your shot placement—and never hit the same shot twice. Move the pickleball to different spots on the court and make your opponents move their feet.
- Create and find the open court space – Sometimes, it may feel like your opponents are covering the entire pickleball court. In those circumstances, it is important to create open court space. To create open court space, try to break your opponents’ link. Your opponents will generally try to stay linked together to cover the most likely shots and the most amount of the pickleball court. However, if you can apply pressure on your opponents, then you may be able to break this link and create open court space. A few tips to creating open court space in pickleball include:
- Again, as mentioned in tip #1, never hit to the same shot twice;
- Hit shots with angles that take your opponents off the pickleball court;
- Hit shots with shape that curve the pickleball off of the court; and
- Be mentally ready to “grind out” points, as it may take several shots to gradually create open court space.
- Hit down to your opponents’ feet – Another way to make your opponents move is by forcing them to bend their knees and get low. To do this, it is important to keep the pickleball low and down by your opponents’ feet. Hitting down is key in pickleball for a number of reasons, including making your opponents move (or get down).
- Follow the lob trend – One of the recent trends in pickleball is the increasing popularity of the lob. Although the lob has been a shot in the sport for years, it is becoming ever more common on the pickleball court. The lob is a great option to make your opponents move, as it forces your opponents back in the court, near the baseline. So, incorporate the lob in order to make your opponents move (but, remember to remain unpredictable and use the lob when appropriate (and not on every shot)).
- Pull your opponents’ eyes off of the ball with your movement – Another way to make your opponents “move” is to make your opponents’ eyes move off of the pickleball. The best way to do this is to distract your opponents with your own movement. When you and/or your partner move—whether with a switch, a fake, etc.—your opponents are likely to be drawn to watch or look at what you are doing. So, make your opponents guess and take their eyes off of the pickleball—and onto you and/or your partner—with your own movement.
Make your opponents move on the pickleball court to force extra errors by them—and more points for you! And, don’t let this strategy be used against you… remember to split stop or split step before your shot to make sure that you are not committing any “moving violations” (i.e., moving while hitting the pickleball) and ensuring that you make contact with the pickleball out in front of your body.
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