Have you ever found yourself on a pickleball court with strange shadows running across the play area? Maybe half of the pickleball court is covered in shadows from a nearby building or tree? Or, maybe just the Non-Volley Zone? If you find yourself in a situation where you have to manage and play through difficult shadows on the pickleball court, here are 7 tips to help you adapt and make the most of the situation:
- Adjust Your Stance and Positioning: Be aware of the shadows on the pickleball and, where possible, adjust your stance and positioning accordingly. Position yourself in a way that minimizes the impact of the on-court shadows on your vision. This may not be possible in all circumstances, as the benefit of incrementally better vision may not outweigh the detriment of giving up court positioning. So, adjust your stance (e.g., get lower to avoid the sun) or your court positioning (e.g., move a step back or a step forward as necessary) where possible.
- Focus on Footwork: Shadows on the pickleball court can make it difficult to judge the depth and distance of the pickleball accurately. So, focus on your footwork to ensure you are in the best position to make the shot, as your eyes may play games with you in and out of the shadows. By maintaining good footwork on the pickleball court, you can compensate for any visual challenges caused by the shadows.
- Improve Pickleball Tracking Skills: Develop your pickleball tracking skills to overcome the limitations of shadows. Train your eyes to track the pickleball’s movement more effectively, relying on other cues, such as speed, trajectory, and sound. Practice drills that specifically target ball tracking to improve your ability to follow the pickleball in challenging lighting conditions (for instance, try drilling or playing indoors on a gym floor from time to time, as the seemingly infinite number of lines and overhead lighting can help improve your focus and ball tracking skills).
- Clear Communication with Your Partner: Communication with your partner on the pickleball court becomes even more critical in shadowy conditions. Clearly communicate your intentions, such as calling out shots, positions, and strategies. Ensure that both you and your partner are aware of the shadowed areas on the pickleball court and that you both can work together to adjust and compensate for them.
- Anticipate and Predict Shots: With limited visibility due to shadows, it becomes crucial to anticipate and predict shots on the pickleball court. Pay attention to your opponents’ movements, body positioning, and shot patterns, and look for cues or tells in their game. By reading your opponents’ cues, you can anticipate where the pickleball is likely to go and position yourself accordingly, increasing your chances of making successful plays—despite any shadows on the pickleball court.
- Stay Focused and Concentrated: Shadows on the pickleball court can be distracting, so it is important to stay focused on the game. Train yourself to block out the visual disturbances caused by the shadows and maintain concentration on your shots and strategies on the pickleball court. Mental focus and discipline will help you overcome the challenges posed by the shadows on the court.
- Embrace the Challenge and Adapt: Rather than seeing shadows as a hindrance, embrace them as a challenge to overcome. Use the opportunity to develop your adaptability and problem-solving skills on the pickleball court. Your opponents will have to play in the same conditions (particularly, if you and your opponents switch sides from game to game). By maintaining a positive mindset and adjusting your game accordingly, you will be more likely to manage the shadows better than your opponents, which will give you an edge on the pickleball court.
With extra focus, footwork, and practice—and a positive attitude—you can master any shadows on the pickleball court that could add an element of difficulty to the game.