When you are on the pickleball court, be on the lookout for out balls. Out balls are easy points for you and your partner. Hitting an out ball keeps your opponents in the point, which is obviously something that you want to avoid. So, duck and dodge out balls, and do not help your opponents stay in the point.
To improve your detection of out balls, consider the following:
- Communicate with Your Partner – Two heads are better than one, so work with your partner to detect out balls. If you see an out ball, scream and yell at your partner—”NO!” or “LET IT GO!” or “BOUNCE!”
- Let the Shoulder Height Drives Go – Generally speaking, if your opponents drive a pickleball at you that sits about chest or shoulder height, let it go. Your opponents’ drive is probably out. This is especially true if your opponents drove the pickleball from the transition zone or Kitchen line. The exceptions to this general rule is if your opponent has a lot of top spin on their shots, which will generally cause the pickleball to stay in the pickleball court. Also, if you are shorter or stay very compressed on the court, then you may have to hit shoulder-height pickleballs and raise your point of reference higher (to possibly, eye level or higher).
- Pay Attention to the Height at Contact – If your opponents drive a pickleball that sits below the net, consider letting it go. This is because your opponents will have to hit up on a low-sitting pickleball to hit it over the net. By hitting up on the pickleball, your opponents will send the pickleball on a trajectory that is probably going out of bounds.
- Patterns of Play – As you play a few points with your opponents, try to analyze their patterns of play. Do your opponents consistently hit a certain shot long or wide? Try to pick up on any patterns to help you anticipate and detect out balls.
- Body Language – In addition to patterns of play, pay attention to your opponents’ body language and paddle face. For instance, a big backswing may indicate a drive is coming your way. Use these clues to help you anticipate shots, including out balls.
Bottom line: Let the out balls go! Sometimes, your best shot on the pickleball court is the one that you don’t hit…