Our Obligation as Pickleballers
We have no obligation! Just go out there and play the game, as long as you are not hurting or bothering others.
However, we do have opportunities:
We can be examples of good behavior both to our fellow pickleballers, as well as the general public. For instance in this website, you’ll see no references to smoking, drinking, drug use, or bad behavior.
Is it possible that through the ripple effect that we pickleball players could eventually create a better society? Can I go so far as to suggest that if we all do that we’ll quite possibly end world warfare?
So, anytime you’re on or off the courts and have a choice of acting badly, or acting nicely, well… you get the idea.
It is not hard to learn to place balls in the magic spot. The spot is as close to the corner of the baseline and the right side of the court as you can manage. The best shot to place here is return of serve. You can do it from the left or right side of the court, but the right side tends to be more spectacular. For best results, they should be long, low drives, but can also be high and floppy.
You’ll find that most right-handers, and even many left-handers struggle with this spot. One reason is it is unusual. The other is that they typically will not move far enough to their left to accommodate the shot.
On interesting effect I’ve noticed is that even if you don’t get close to the sideline, your recipients will still struggle. Just having the ball go slightly to the recipient’s left will flummox many players.
Finally, while the shot works best when deep, a variation is to place the ball close to the net. This is true whether the players are standing toward the back of the court, or up by the kitchen, although a good player at the kitchen line is likely to blast the ball back down your own sideline, or place an extreme diagonal into your partner’s kitchen. The short kitchen version must be low and ideally very close to the net.
Drilling for the magic spot is easy, and a worthwhile activity if you have a bucket of balls and time on your hands. Just bounce a ball while you are standing near your baseline, and hit it as if you are returning a serve.
8 Tips For Around The Post
Around the post, often called “ATP” is a shot that always gets the crowd on their feet. Here are a few pointers:
1. You may be so habituated to getting the ball over the net that you’ll miss opportunities for ATP. It helps if you’ve practiced the shot so many times that when you see an ATP option, you’ll take advantage.
2. Remember that there is no need for height. When you’re outside of the posts, there is no need to get the ball up in the air. It can literally skim inches over the ground.
3. The around the post shot must be a put-away, because you’ll be far out of position from where it is difficult to return to an ongoing rally.
4. Don’t do what I always seem to do, which is to try the shot when I’m not sufficiently outside the sideline. I always manage to hit the post instead of going around it! If you are a right-hander, then of course this is much easier when you are on the right side of the court.
5. In doubles, partner ought to maintain the usual 2 – 3 meter (6 – 9 feet) spacing, so that if you don’t put the ball away, the partner can more easily cover what might be returned.
6. If your momentum has carried you forward, and you are out of the kitchen, you can overrun the plane of the net after the shot.
7. You can run through the kitchen since when you hit the ball you’ll be outside of the kitchen.
8. Of course the best place to land the ball is just ahead of the baseline and near the sideline, well behind where your opponents are likely to be standing.
See also Around The Post
Three Steps to Solid Groundstrokes
What Barrett Kincheloe is teaching in this short video are the fundamentals of pickleball ground strokes. For those who don’t know, a groundstroke is a somewhat nebulous term, but it generally means a long low shot from close to your baseline to close to your opponents’ baseline. He doesn’t talk much about topspin, which is also an important component of many groundstrokes.
Enjoy this short ESPN documentary about our favorite sport:
When should you experiment, and what does that mean?
You should experiment any time you’re not in a competition. The idea is that in casual or recreational matches, you can really work on your dropshots, try to put things as close to diagonal corners as possible, work on the right side passing shot that is so successful when it goes right along the sideline, fool around with poaching, or find the right height for lobs that are unreturnable.
It is this experimentation that will make you a great player faster than anything else.
There are two downsides to experimenting: You won’t look like a good pickleballer to your friends and neighborhood players because you’re frequently missing your shots. Is that important? Maybe not in comparison to more rapidly becoming an accomplished player than everyone else. Plus, when you land that extreme diagonal, or drop one perfectly in the kitchen, you’ll look great then and there.
On the other hand, the pickup or recreational game may not be important to you, but your partner may be really hoping to win. Or, maybe you’re the kind of person who really wants to win every game. Can you give up the immediate games in order to become a better player? That little psychological shift may be harder than you think.
A really great game to experiment with on a recreational court is when your partner isn’t very accomplished, or the players you’re up against are weaker. This is a time to work on your subtler skills rather than slamming every shot.
You may find it’s great fun to return every ball gently, and watch the opposing team slam back every shot they can reach. When you get tired of that, aim for the feet of a player on their non-dominant side, but gently, and watch what happens!
The other downside is that you have to remember to play conservatively, to quit experimenting, when you’re in serious competition.
A couple of years ago, it was said that there were 2 million pickleball players in America, and that the number was expected to grow to 8 million. I think we may have surpassed that number already. Where will it end?
One of the courts I frequently play on is partially covered with shade trees. For many players, seeing the pickleballs in the mottled shade and sun is difficult. This affects some players more than others. Colorblindness may be the issue. It is surprisingly common. (Try the fun little colorblindness test and exercise, and find out whether you are colorblind.)
So, I brought some ‘optic pink’ pickleballs to the courts, and sure enough, some players were able to see them better. However, other players felt they could see the yellow balls we had been using better.
In any case, the pink balls are fun because they are so different.
After lots of hard play, none have cracked yet, a problem that used to frequently plague pickleballs until a few years ago. They do get scuffed. Man, do they get scuffed! As you can see in the picture above, one is brand new, the other has been used for less than ten games.
To my surprise, when you slice and otherwise try spin shots, it seems that the scuffed ones don’t perform any better than the brand new ones.
In all other ways than color, these are exactly like the regular Franklin outdoor pickleballs. They have the same weight, number and size of holes, bounciness, and so on.
The only source I have found for these pickleballs is Ebay .
Low-End Pickleball Paddle Review
I had an opportunity to test some interesting pickleball paddles.
I bought this kit at Target. Containing two paddles and two balls, the price was $19.99!
You would think for that price, you wouldn’t get much. Well, let’s see.
We can start with the two pickleballs. They are actually ordinary Franklin balls, and held up fine in play.
Now, what about those paddles? I mean, $10 each, really! Well, I used both of them for about one game each, and I was actually impressed.
One of the two came in the package with a scratch:
But that’s me just being picky. The scratch had no effect on the performance.
They played fine. The painted wooden surfaces were uniform, meaning if I hit the ball a little away from the center, it still sent the ball where I expected it to go.
I was a bit surprised about the sound they make. Both paddles made a rather loud and high-pitched sort of double ‘bap’ when hitting the ball, as if something is loose inside. Maybe it’s the edge guard rattling.
The paddles are slightly heavy compared to high-end paddles, weighing an estimated 8 ounces (226 grams), although I didn’t actually weight them. Players put a lot of emphasis on lightweight paddles, but the difference is tiny. Heavy paddles actually have an advantage that you can impart more energy for smashes, and long backcourt drives. Perhaps one cannot respond quite as quickly at the kitchen line, but again, the actual difference is tiny.
In short, if you want to suggest affordable paddles for your friends, or have a couple of paddles to loan out, these would be great. If you are a 5.0 player, and are forced to use one of these paddles, you’d probably win as many games as with your $200 paddle.