Happy New Year from PickleballCentral!
We hope everyone has been having a fantastic January so far and had the opportunity to play their first game(s) of 2018—hopefully indoors if you’re dealing with the winter chill.
With the recent focus on new beginnings, we’ve been pondering what pickleball-centric resolutions players may have set for themselves. If you’re not sure where to take your game from here and need some inspiration, here are several goals to consider:
Drill more often
As fun as it is to play games all the time, pickleball is all about “percentages” and reducing errors. If you can perfect the basics such as your serve, dinks, lobs and accurately returning volleys, you’ll find your game will improve as a whole.
Carefully returning dink after dink or only using groundstrokes may feel a little dull when it’s all you’re practicing for an hour, but once you take those skills back into play you’ll find you can adapt to different situations more easily. Biding your time and letting opponents make the mistakes is a wise strategy to rack up wins.
Perfect the third-shot drop
Many players have heard about the third-shot drop but don’t necessarily know why it’s a good tactic or how to work it into their play.
The third-shot is simply the shot after the serve and return of serve. When you’re playing against skilled opponents, they will generally have rushed up to the no-volley zone/kitchen after the return of serve and will have you at a disadvantage if they’re able to keep you at the base line. If you hit a drop shot into the kitchen they will be forced to wait for the bounce, giving you more time to reach the net and get into position.
If you work on this shot, you’ll help consistently put yourself on an even playing field against others.
Contrary to the first recommendation on this list, if you feel you’ve achieved a fairly strong level of performance but your game has been stagnating, it may be time to start changing things up. If you’ve been locked in a dink battle for ages, surprise your opponent by pushing them back with a lob. Go for a shot down the middle of the court if you’ve been hitting across.
Once you lull your opponents into a rhythm, that’s the time to look for an unexpected shot to steal the point.
This might seem obvious, but if you’re involved with the competitive side of pickleball or find yourself taking more casual games to heart, it might be time to reassess why you’re playing the sport and what its biggest benefits truly are.
Pickleball began as a family game and has retained the majority of its relaxed, social nature. While it provides a variety of health benefits and allows people to indulge in their competitive side, we believe its greatest asset is the way the community welcomes players of all backgrounds and lets everyone have fun without preconceptions.
If you’ve been feeling stressed about practice or how much you’re improving, remember that the point of pickleball is to engage with other players and have a good time.
Smile more, laugh at yourself and of course, feel free to work on your technique at the same time!
What are some of your resolutions for 2018, pickleball-related or not? Tell us in the comments and enjoy the New Year!