You and your partner are on the pickleball court. You battle your way to the Non-Volley Zone line and force your opponents to hit a ball that sits up just above the pickleball net. Although it is not a put away shot, it is a pickleball that you are able to be more offensive with and go on the attack against your opponents. Where could or should you hit your shot?
5 Common Targets to Win More Pickleball Points
Learn 5 common targets to win more points against your opponents on the pickleball court:
- Down the middle of your opponents – As a reminder, the middle of your opponents may not be down the centerline. It is important to find the middle of the respective court spaces that your opponents are responsible for. This may be the centerline, or it may be off the centerline. Further, this may change from shot to shot. So, find the middle and challenge your opponents down the middle.
- At your opponents’ paddle-side shoulders (also known as the “Chicken Wing”) – The paddle-side shoulder is a common place to attack as it is difficult to defend for most players. This spot is the transition point between a forehand shot and a backhand shot, which makes it difficult for players to react quick enough to defend. So, target your opponents’ paddle-side shoulder and put your opponents in an uncomfortable “chicken wing” position.
- At either of your opponents’ hips (mix up the sides and keep your opponents guessing) – Other awkward spots on your opponents are their hips. Most pickleball players stay in a ready position with their paddle close to the middle of their body. As a result, shooting your shot to either hip forces your opponents to have to move their paddle and react to the pickleball. Plus, the hips make for reasonably low targets that can force your opponents to pop up the pickleball. And, by mixing up your targets to both the left and right hip, you can keep your opponents guessing as to where you will hit the pickleball.
- At your opponents’ weak sides, which is generally their backhand sides – The basic cornerstone of pickleball strategy is to play to your strengths and your opponents’ weaknesses. So, it is important to know your strengths and expose your opponents’ weaknesses. One such weakness could be a specific side—for instance, a forehand or a backhand. Although not true of every pickleball player, most pickleball players will have stronger forehand shots and weaker backhand shots. So, consider targeting your opponents’ backhand side, but only if that is their weaker side.
- At your opponents’ feet (particularly, the foot on your opponents’ weak sides) – The general goal on the pickleball court is to hit the pickleball on a downward trajectory and force your opponents to hit on an upward trajectory. As a result, whenever you can send the pickleball on a downward trajectory, you should. For instance, if you are able to hit a volley, try to hit with a downward trajectory (rather than a flat trajectory). Further, if possible, hit down toward your opponents’ weaker side (i.e., typically, the backhand side)—especially if this weaker side is in the middle of the pickleball court.
These targets are all good options, but each are dependent on where you are, where your partner is, where your opponents are, and where the pickleball is on the pickleball court. Regardless of your preferred targets, be sure to give yourself a little margin for error, so you can limit your unforced errors on the pickleball court—in other words, by “going for” too much and aiming for the baselines and sidelines of the pickleball court. To reduce your unforced errors, shrink the pickleball court in your mind by two to three feet on each side and at the baseline, and play within the “smaller” pickleball court. And, be sure to mix-up your shot selection!
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