Pickleball is a game of strategy. And, with the game of pickleball becoming faster—in other words, more drives, more speed ups, and more counterattacks—one strategy that is gaining more steam on the pickleball court is a bait ball.
What Is a Bait Ball in Pickleball?
A bait ball in pickleball is a shot that tempts the opposing player or team to take a certain action or take a certain shot that is expected by you and your partner. Then, once the opposing player or team takes the bait and hits the expected shot, you and your partner counterattack. In other words, a bait ball tricks your opponents into hitting a shot that you know is coming, so that you and your partner can counter with an even stronger shot.
Most commonly, a bait ball is a shot that sits just above the pickleball net. The goal of this slightly high bait ball is usually to tempt the opposing player or team to hit a speed up. The speed up may also be to a common spot—in other words, your opponents may have a tendency to hit the speed up to the same spot over and over again. As a result, you know what shot is coming and can counterattack even stronger. You can use your opponents’ speed and power against them to hit an even more powerful counterattack.
When to Use a Bait Ball on the Pickleball Court
Try using a bait ball in the following circumstances on the pickleball court:
- Your opponents have common tendencies. For instance, if you hit a “floaty” dink right to their body, they have a tendency to punch the pickleball right at your body. Or, if you hit a high dink to their backhand, they have a tendency to hit a two-handed backhand crosscourt. If your opponents have common tendencies with bait balls on the pickleball court, then you can tempt your opponents into hitting a shot that you know is coming.
- Your hands are faster than your opponents’ hands. Fast hands are important in pickleball because of the fast action at the Kitchen line, as players are only 14 feet apart when playing at the Kitchen line. As a result, it is important to understand who has the edge in hands’ battles on the pickleball court (i.e., which team has the faster hands). Sometimes, players struggle when their opponents speed up the pickleball (oftentimes, a speed up induces a pop up for an easy put away shot). Other times, players enjoy when their opponents speed up the pickleball because they have strong counterpunches or counterattacks. They are able to use their opponents’ speed against them and hit a shot that is even stronger and faster against them. So, if your hands are fast and you are a strong counterpuncher, then you may want to consider using the bait ball on the pickleball court.
- Your opponents have a tendency to go for “too much.” If your opponents have a tendency to be overly aggressive or go for “too much,” then bait balls may push your opponents into poor shot selection. They may struggle to discern the difference between an attackable shot and an unattackable shot, which will lead to indecision and hitting shots in the net and/or out of bounds.
Although the bait ball on the pickleball court can be a good strategy to tempt your opponents into hitting the shot you expect or want, be careful not to overuse the bait ball. If you use the bait ball too often, then your opponents will likely not fall for your temptations or quickly adjust their pickleball strategy. Further, be careful not to hit the bait ball too off-target that the bait ball becomes an easy put away shot. The bait ball in pickleball is a shot on the edge. A shot to tempt your opponents, and not a shot for your opponents to easily win the rally.
Try the bait ball on the pickleball courts, but use it strategically!
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Struggling against aggressive players on the pickleball court? For instance, those pickleball bangers? Learn 7 strategies on how to defeat the banger now.
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