Most pickleball players have experienced the circumstance where the pickleball hits the net cord and continues to the other side of the net. These net cord pickleballs can work to your advantage (if you hit them) or your disadvantage (if your opponents hit them against you). For instance, if the net cord pickleball is hit against you, then it is generally a difficult shot to defend against because the tape or pickleball net misdirects the pickleball. This misdirection can be difficult to react to, as oftentimes you may be at the Kitchen line with little to no reaction time, or you may be deep in the court near the baseline and have a lot of ground to cover toward the Kitchen in order to reach the net cord pickleball.
If your opponents hit a net cord pickleball that clips the net and dribbles over to your side of the court near the net and lands in the Kitchen, try the following to counterattack this somewhat “lucky” shot from your opponents:
- Quickly react and step into the Kitchen toward the pickleball, leading with your paddle. You will have to reach and get your paddle completely under the pickleball with an open paddle face.
- Tap the pickleball in a vertical trajectory over the middle part of the net, which is the lowest part of the net and allows you to hit into a larger part of the court by hitting with a small crosscourt direction. If you try to do too much—for instance, hit the pickleball over a higher part of the net (i.e., straight on or toward the sidelines), with too much angle crosscourt, or a closed paddle face—you will probably hit the pickleball straight into the net. Keep it simple and tap the pickleball over the middle part of the net, which will likely be an unattackable shot for your opponents.
This shot over the middle part of the net is your best option to reset the rally. You will have other options, such as a speed up or a lob. However, these shots come with more risk and an increased chance of unforced errors. So, when faced with a net cord pickleball, consider keeping it simple, playing the highest percentage shot, and tapping the pickleball lightly over the middle part of the net to reset the rally.
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