An around the post shot, also known as an “ATP,” is a specialty shot in pickleball where you hit the pickleball under the top of the net and around the net post. An ATP typically happens when a player hits “too good” of a shot, meaning that a player hits a shot with a sharp angle that causes the pickleball to travel across and off of the pickleball court. However, when this happens a receiving player can chase down the pickleball and be so far off the court that the receiving player has a clear, unobstructed view of the other side of the court and the ability to hit the pickleball around the net post and into the other side of the pickleball court.
If you find yourself with an opportunity to hit an ATP, you should go for it because it is a difficult shot for your opponents to defend. However, the ATP is a difficult shot to master and comes with risk if you have not perfected this shot. To help you master the ATP and take advantage of your ATP opportunities on the pickleball court, consider the following 5 keys to ATP success:
- Anticipation – Like any shot on the pickleball court, anticipation is essential so you can react and counter your opponents. However, this is even more true of an around the post shot, as this shot takes some additional footwork, set-up, patience, and unique execution. To help you anticipate an ATP shot, look for sharp crosscourt angles from your opponents. These are shots where the pickleball will bounce near the sideline and will have additional pace or spin that carries the pickleball off of the court. These are prime ATP opportunities because the pickleball will travel so far that you will have a clear, unobstructed view of the other side of the court.
Footwork and Set-Up – Once you anticipate an ATP opportunity, set-up for your shot early. You do this with your feet more so than any other body part (or your paddle). So, move your feet and:
- Stay low to the ground. It is important to stay in an athletic stance and stay low with the pickleball, as you may need to hit the pickleball very low off of the ground.
- Stay with the pickleball. Since the pickleball will likely have additional pace and spin, it is important to keep up with that pace by using your feet.
- Use an open stance, if possible. Try to stay open toward the pickleball net, rather than taking any crossover step. This will help you stay balanced and ready for the next shot. However, this may not always be possible if the pickleball has a lot pace and spin. As a result, you may need to turn your body toward the sideline and run to track down the pickleball. In these circumstances, crossover steps are okay, as it may be your only chance to track down the pickleball.
- Patience – The most important key to the ATP shot is to be patient. This is because you need to wait for the pickleball to travel off the pickleball court, so that you have a clear pathway to hit the pickleball around the post and to the other side of the court. The farther the pickleball travels off of the court, the easier your ATP shot will be. So, wait as long as possible to strike the pickleball. In other words, wait until the pickleball is about to bounce for the second time. This will be a shot with a very low point of contact, about 6 inches or so off of the court surface (which is why it is important to stay low, as noted above).
Compact Execution – Once you are in position and have been patient with your attack, it is time to hit your ATP. To execute your ATP shot it is important to stay compact and to:
- Keep your eye on the pickleball;
- Take a short backswing;
- Get your pickleball paddle positioned on the outside (and possibly top side) of the pickleball in order to hit the pickleball back into the court;
- Make contact out in front of your body; and
- Stay balanced, so that you can get back in position and ready for the next shot in case your opponents are able to effectively defend your ATP shot.
To note, if you are really advanced (like the pickleball pros), you may even be able to shape the pickleball with spin in order to curve the pickleball around the post. In order to do this, you will certainly need be on the outside of the pickleball with both your feet and your paddle, so you have time to execute your shot. With that said, hitting a flatter ball (without much spin) will be easier to execute.
- Know Your Target – When hitting an ATP, give yourself some margin for error. Aim for about two to three feet inside of the sideline and baselines of the pickleball court. Consider aiming for your opponents’ socks and keep the pickleball low.
As a reminder, the around the post shot is an advanced shot, but the ATP can be very effective in circumstances where your opponents have caused you to run off the sides of the pickleball court. When you have an ATP opportunity, go for it because these shots are difficult to defend and may lead to extra points for you and your partner (plus, they are very satisfying to execute correctly).
To help you master these keys to success and the ATP shot, get out on the pickleball court and drill with a partner to commit these 5 keys to muscle memory. Hit wide crosscourt dinks to each other and practice your anticipation, footwork, set-up, patience, compact execution, and hitting your targets!
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