On the pickleball court, we are all trying to avoid popping up the pickleball. Pop ups lead to easy put away shots for your opponents. Avoiding hitting pop ups—in other words, keeping the pickleball low—is all about control and is especially important when playing at the Non-Volley Zone line.
Are you losing pickleball points because you are popping up the pickleball? If so, here are 9 common reasons why you may be popping up the pickleball and how to fix it:
1. Grip Strength Is Too Strong
If your grip strength is too strong (i.e., “white knuckling” the pickleball paddle), you will have less control and touch of the pickleball. Rather, the pickleball will bounce off of your paddle with pace like hitting a backboard. As a result, too strong of grip strength will make you pop up the pickleball.
To fix this, focus on having a relatively loose paddle grip. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the strongest), think of using a 4 in grip strength. This will help you have better control of the pickleball and less pop ups.
2. Backswing Is Too Big
Big backswings mean more power and can at times mean wild swings and wild hits. Pickleball is about control and being compact. So, big backswings can result in unintentional pop ups on the pickleball court, especially when dinking. To reduce pop ups, focus on taking short, compact backswings on the pickleball court.
3. Point of Contact Is Too Close or Too Far Out Front
Just like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” when it comes to your point of contact on the pickleball court, there is a point that is “too close,” “too far out front,” and “just right.” If you hit the pickleball too close to your body, or too far out in front where you are overextending for the pickleball, you will be prone to popping up the pickleball. Avoid hitting the pickleball in those areas. Rather, hit the pickleball comfortably out in front of your body.
To help you do this:
- Imagine that there is a one- to two-foot force field or hula hoop around your feet. Do not let the pickleball travel within this force field or hula hoop when dinking. Comfortably extend your paddle when dinking to protect your force field or hula hoop.
- On the flip side, remain comfortable with your reach out in front of your body. If necessary, let the pickleball bounce, rather than forcing yourself to hit every pickleball out of the air. To let the pickleball bounce, it is even okay to take a step back in order to hit a better, more effective shot. However, remember, if you take a step back, be sure to immediately take a step back into the Kitchen line (which will help you continue to put pressure on your opponents and help you win more points).
4. Moving While Hitting the Pickleball
As noted above, it is imperative that you strike the pickleball out in front of you. One of the most common causes for a missed shot or a pop up is moving while hitting, which could make you overrun the pickleball or hit the pickleball behind your body. Avoid moving while hitting the pickleball to help reduce pop ups. To help you do this, make sure that you perform a split step before your shot. You must perform a split step, set up, strike the pickleball, and then move and react to your next shot. In other words, do not rush your shots on the pickleball court... you have more time than you think!
5. Flicking Wrist or Breaking Elbow
Flicking your wrist or breaking at your elbow will cause inconsistent hits on the pickleball court—including frequent pop ups. To avoid these pop ups, keep your wrist stable without any sharp jerk and, rather than breaking at your wrist or elbow, use a controlled motion with a lift from your shoulder. Lifting from your shoulder, with a firm wrist, will result in more controlled shots on the pickleball court.
6. Not Being Ready for the Pickleball
Pickleball is a fast game with minimal reaction time. As a result, it is important to react fast and reduce the time it takes for you to react to the pickleball. If you are standing tall (and not in an athletic stance with your knees bent), or have your paddle down, it will take you more time to react to the pickleball, which may result in more pop ups on the pickleball court, since you are out of your ready position.
To fix this, stay in an athletic stance with your knees bent and paddle up. The lower you get on the pickleball court, the more successful you will generally be. Bend your knees, stay low, keep your paddle up, and remain ready for the pickleball.
7. Spin Is Overpowering You
Spin can cause the pickleball to do strange things. For instance, top spin (i.e., forward spin, or spin over the top of the pickleball that causes the pickleball to spin into the court or your paddle) will cause the pickleball to take a bigger bounce. This includes a bigger bounce off of your paddle—which will result in a pop up.
As a result, it is important to pay attention to the spin on the pickleball. It is important to take any spin on the pickleball into account on your shots. Give extra focus on counteracting spin and adjust your shot as necessary. For instance, if your opponent’s top spin is causing higher bounces off of your paddle, try to use softer hands (i.e., less power) than usual to keep the pickleball low over the net.
8. Dinking Over the Highest Part of the Pickleball Net
The pickleball net has different heights at different parts of the net. For instance, the pickleball net is highest near the posts—at 36 inches—and lowest in the middle—at 34 inches. Also, the amount of space you have to dink into varies whether you hit crosscourt or down the line. You will have more court space when hitting crosscourt, as opposed to down the line.
It is important to take these heights and the court space into consideration. Generally speaking, there are more pop ups when dinking down the line because you have less court space to work with and you must hit the pickleball higher to get it over the net.
So, to help you avoid pop ups, consider hitting most dinks crosscourt or into the middle of the court. If you do decide to go down the line, be conscious of the short space and higher net and adjust your shot accordingly.
9. Attacking Under Pressure
Pop ups also occur on the pickleball court due to poor shot selection. For instance, when you are caught by surprise by your opponents and still decide to attack the pickleball, you will likely hit a wild shot, including a pop up. Rather than attacking when you are caught by surprise or under pressure, consider blocking or resetting the pickleball using soft hands. Only counterattack when you are ready for it and see the attack coming.
Do any of these reasons for popping up the pickleball resonate with you? If so, use the pickleball tips in this blog to reduce your pop ups on the pickleball court.
WANT MORE PICKLEBALL TIPS AND STRATEGIES?
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