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6 Pickleball Tips to Block Like a Pro

Strategy & Technique Stacie Townsend 08-21-2023

Blocking like a pro on the pickleball court requires a combination of technique, positioning, timing, and strategy. Here are 6 tips to help you improve your blocking skills on the pickleball court:

1. Drop into a low athletic stance. When it comes to playing defense and blocking the pickleball, the lower, the better. This is because you are able to react more quickly to incoming shots and effectively block them. So, bend your knees and get low into a strong, athletic position.

2. Prepare your pickleball paddle out in front of your body. You will want to make contact with the pickleball out in front of your body (but without overextending your arm), so get your paddle out there immediately. Further, with blocking, your goal is to reset the pickleball—in other words, your goal is to neutralize your opponents with a soft shot that lands in the Kitchen. By getting your paddle out in front of your body (with a bent elbow), you will give yourself the best chance to control and neutralize the offensive shot from your opponents.

3. Use the right paddle angle. Adjust your pickleball paddle angle based on the trajectory of the incoming shot. If the ball is coming downward, angle your paddle downward slightly to block it back with control. If the shot is flatter, keep your paddle more neutral. This neutral or slightly upward position is important, as it will help you generate a shot with backspin that arcs over the net and drops quickly once it crosses the net.

4. Use a loose grip. It is important to have a loose, relaxed grip on the pickleball court – think a 4 out of 10 grip pressure. It is also important to hold the pickleball paddle more in your fingers and less in the palm of your hand. If you loosen your grip pressure and use more of your fingers to hold the paddle, you will have a softer touch, which will give you more touch and control to better enable you to reset your opponents’ offensive shot.

6 Pickleball Tips to Block Like a Pro
5. Anticipate your opponents’ shots. Watch your opponents’ body language, paddle angle, and court positioning to anticipate where they might hit the pickleball (for instance, big backswings may indicate speed-ups). Being able to predict the shot early gives you a better chance to set up for a successful block.

6. Keep it simple. Do not do too much with your block. Rather, think reset and neutralize. There should be no backswing and minimal follow through (as big swings can lead to errors). Stay calm and simply find the pickleball with your paddle out in front of your body. Stay “quiet” with your wrist, arm, and body.

Remember, practice is key to becoming a proficient blocker in pickleball. Work on your technique, timing, and positioning during practice or drill sessions. Additionally, play regularly against opponents of varying skill levels to refine your blocking skills in different game situations. As you improve your blocking abilities, you will become a more formidable presence on the pickleball court.

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