PICKLEBALL INSTRUCTION INTERMEDIATE WHAT’S THE GREATEST MISTAKE PLAYERS MAKE FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE COURT? BY Laura Fenton Kovanda or years, pickleball players have constantly heard about the 3rd shot. Should I drive it or drop it? But, what happens after that? What allows a player to go from a 3.5 skill level to a 4.0? It could be what happens on the 5th, 7th or 9th shot—potentially from the middle of the court. Not much attention or instruction has been given to this area, where balls are either coming down at your feet or up at your body. What occurs in the middle of the court determines whether your team can continue to move forward to get to the kitchen line. But how? When a ball is hit back into the middle of the court, most players want to wind up and take a big swing at it. It’s just too juicy! But think about it—your opponents are at the kitchen line returning a ball coming right into their “hitting zone” while you’re now in the middle of the court with much less time to react. This means balls are either hit right back at your feet or at your body. What I can guarantee is your team will most likely lose the majority of these points. So, how can you fix this? Most players believe they need to “swing” at the ball. Quite the contrary—in fact, the goal should be to get this ball back into your opponents’ kitchen, so you can move forward. F 68 Here’s the key. Typically, your paddle is parallel with the net when you swing. In this case, your paddle needs to slightly tilt back, as if it’s looking up and over the net—this gives the trajectory of the ball to go up and over. And rather than taking a swing, the arm remains stiff with just slight movement of making contact with the ball. The faster the ball is hit, the less movement one should have in that arm. And the goal is now to have the ball float up and over the net, dropping into your opponents’ kitchen. Think about it—your opponents are at the kitchen line returning a ball coming right into their “hitting zone” while you’re now in the middle of the court with much less time to react. TO SUBSCRIBE CALL 888.308.3720 OR GO TO THEPICKLEBALLMAG.COM Practice, practice, practice with a partner hitting balls at your feet and body at all different locations on the court, and you will start to notice a difference rather quickly. But “changing your brain” and choice of shots is the first step climbing up to the next level!