Paddle Manipulation

In this video, you’ll see pickleball paddle manipulation. I make it look simple because I’ve done it a thousand times. You can do it a thousand times too. It makes good use of your time between games while you’re waiting for other players to use the court. This exercise has a valid purpose. It will help with your hand-eye coordination, and with your instinctive feel for how you are holding the paddle in your hand. That’s very important for accurate shots.

For best results, do this on grass or a soft surface, because dropping your paddle on a hard surface once or twice will work out fine, but after a while, it will break down.

If you watch the video carefully, you’ll see that most of what I’m doing is based on two spins per toss.

To start, just flip the paddle from hand to hand with a single spin. It is important to use both hands right from the beginning, otherwise you’ll always have trouble with the non-dominant hand.

When you’re good at single spins, work on doubles. One of the things that may come naturally to you is to make sure the paddle spins flat. By that, I mean, it shouldn’t rotate on its axis while it is in the air, but should remain in a vertical orientation. If it rotates, or becomes horizontal, it will catch in the air and become unpredictable. Looking carefully at the video, you’ll see I actually had trouble with that during the first couple of tosses.

Everything else such as bouncing it off your feet, transverse throws, under the leg, behind the back, and the head balance are easily accomplished after you master the double spins. Quite possibly you’ll learn some things I didn’t demonstrate. Then you can teach me.

Have fun! – Jeff

Bad Paddle

The Story Behind This Paddle

The paddle you see pictured above was my paddle with which I learned not only more pickleball, but some of the silly moves such as Strange Serve. I learned some additional tricks which I’ll be demonstrating on this website soon. As you might imagine, I dropped it a few times. Or, maybe more than a few times.

At first, it just started to show cracks at the top corners. Then it got worse, as you can see below:

But it still worked fine. People started laughing at my worn paddle, which of course caused me to keep using it. We were all curious to see how bad it might become.

One day, the black plastic edge pnotecter came entirely loose from the top. It was flopping around. Even still, I could use the paddle, except when plastic strip came between the paddle surface and the ball. So, it had to be cut off.

The paddle not only continued to work but in my opinion was even better than original, being quite a bit lighter in weight. Of course, I’d be kicked out of an official tournament with that paddle, but that wasn’t a concern for recreational play.

Now that the edge protecter was gone, the material started to wear away more rapidly from the corners. You’d see little corrugated strips laying on the courts where I had played.

I kept telling people that I’d retire the paddle when it got down to the size of a teaspoon. Even thought it still works fine today, I have in fact retired it. I started to think that if a teammate and I tried for the same shot, there’s a chance I’d scratch my partner’s hand or arm. I would imagine the scratch with that rough material could be quite severe.

Now I’m using a brand new Z5 just like the old one.

I’ve seen many pickleballers who try multiple paddles, spending as much as it takes to get the most recent fashionable product. I continue to use my Z5. I’m certainly not the best player in the world, but I hope this little story lets people know that the quality of the game is far more based on the skill of the player than having the exact right paddle.

As an aside, in the 1970s when bicycle racers all felt they had to shave their legs and wear chamois-lined black wool shorts to be competitive, the fastest racer in New York started showing up with hairy legs and his shorts inside out. He still won most races.

The Diagonal Dink

As a player becomes more advanced, there is a certain move that is hard to execute accurately. That is a diagonal dink. For right-handers, that would be when you are on the right side of the court.

The tendency is to stand to the left of the incoming ball as it bounces, and return it with a soft forehand stroke. If you are typical, you’ll find the accuracy is just terrible, with most of your returns going into the net, too deep, or too high. You might try imparting spins to fix the problem, and then it only gets worse.

The way to resolve this is to stand right behind where the ball bounces, or maybe just a bit to the left, and return it with an underhand stroke, the same as you would for a straight dink perpendicularly over the net.

The only downside is you have to move fully into position, which can require quickness and agility during play.

When warming up before games, or whenever you’d like to practice techniques, I’d recommend working on this one quite a lot.

For intermediate and advanced play, skill in diagonal dinking will win many rallies, because your opponents will still be having the trouble you once had.

Defending Against Slammers

Defending Against Slammers

There comes a day when you’ve become accustomed to a higher level of play in which the typical rally starts with two formal deep shots – a deep serve and deep return of serve. The third shot is generally dropped into the kitchen, and then a gentle dink rally ensues until someone makes a mistake.

Once you get to this level of play, you may be frustrated by the former tennis players just below your level, who still think the best way to play is with long, hard forehand topspin shots, typically from the back court, and aimed at your back court.

This can be frustrating until you learn to defend against these slamming shots. It defeats what you’ve recently learned is a ‘higher level’ of play. In fact, even though you are on your lofty high level, these slammer players are making a mockery out of your style, and quite possibly winning the matches, also.

Here’s what you do: You and your partner should maintain a wall just behind the kitchen line. You know you’ll be getting slams. Watch the slammer’s eyes if you can, and the slammer’s stance, and you’ll soon start to recognize where the slam is being aimed. Just hold your paddle in the right place, and the ball will deflect back to your opponent’s court, with nearly the velocity it was aimed at you. Quite possibly, the slammers won’t be able to deal with their own medicine.

Now, you may find that trying to simply deflect slams doesn’t work as well as you’d like. Quite often they are hit at you with such force, that when mirrored off your paddle, they go out of bounds behind your opponents’ baseline.

So, don’t swing your paddle. Just hold it loosely, and let their hard slams deflect off it and lose power so it drops meekly into their kitchen. You might even back up the paddle a bit as their ball hits, helping to take off some of the bounce.

A big help in this strategy is to tilt your paddle forward a bit, or try to aim the deflection down. It won’t generally hit on your side of the net, because their power prevents that. Instead, as you deflect it downward, it will really and truly fall into their kitchen.

Yet another strategy is to hold the paddle very loosely, but tilted slightly upward, imparting a backspin on the balls that are slammed at you. These will tend to bounce a bit higher, being certain to clear the net, but land so close to the net in the kitchen that the slammers won’t be able to deal with them.

Now true slammers will then try to slam that weak deflection back at you, only then discovering that they are too close to the net, and your ball will bounce too weakly to be hit with a forehand topspin. These slammer people will consistently hit it into the net and lose the point. It becomes fun to watch.

You may never have to say a word. The slammers will start to copy your style, if that’s what is winning every match.

In Which Countries Is Pickleball Most Popular?


In Which Countries Is Pickleball Most Popular?

According to statistics from this website, the people who visit here:

64% live in the United States

22% are citizens of England

10% are from Canada

4% are from Brazil

1.15% are from China.

1.12% are from Russia.

1.0% are from Italy.

We also have had a number of visitors from other countries including (in descending order) Japan, Australia, Puerto Rico, Argentina, The Philippines, France, South Africa, Columbia, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Costa Rica, Egypt, Finland, India Taiwan, Algeria,  Cameroon, Balize, Netherlands, Pakistan, Peru, Portugal, Serbia, South Korea, Malasia, Spain, and Sri Lanka, with a handful of visitors from other countries.

Stronger Player

Play to the Stronger Opponent

I’m going to suggest that in doubles pickleball, you place many of your shots to the stronger opponent, not the weaker one. Now, if you’re competing in a tournament, giving most of the shots to the weaker player insures that you’ll win. But when it doesn’t matter who wins, you’re far better off giving much of the play to the strong player. Why? Because then you’ll learn how to play a better game. The stronger player will drop things into the kitchen. The stronger player knows where to be to respond to your every tactic, and worse, knows how to flummox you. So, by focusing on this player, you’ll learn what doesn’t work with good players, and what does.

Another benefit may come of this. Many beginning and intermediate players don’t pay much attention to who they are playing with, and will randomly place their shots to either opponent. By focusing on the stronger opponent, you will learn to single one person out, and place the shots to that person, which you can then use in competition to focus on the weaker player.


Today’s Win

Today’s win is tomorrow’s loss. Let me explain: If you’re normal, when in typical pick-up games, you put a lot of effort into winning. You might even focus your shots on the weaker player, try all sorts of spins and angles to end rallies early. I’m proposing that you might try something different. Instead, you might concentrate your efforts on the better player. Not only that, but you might return many shots defensively. In other words, when it a kitchen rally, try dropping soft shots into the middle of the kitchen, and wait for the players on the other side to try something offensive.

Why would you do this? Because it is an excellent learning and practice opportunity. Wouldn’t it be great to see just what the better member of the opposing team can do? Wouldn’t it be a good strategy to practice dropping balls softly into the kitchen, and then learn to defend against what happens when you don’t get it right and the opponents try to return them offensively? If you do this, then when you get into a competition with advanced players, you’ll be an advanced player too, and you’ll win!

There’s another reason, too. When your local everyday players see you ‘toying’ with them in this way, they’ll be quite impressed, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll start playing the same way, and then everyone advances.


Pickleball Strategy – Faking

Most players telegraph where they are going to send the ball. They look where they are hitting it. You might try something different. Using your peripheral vision, your sense of position, or a quick glance if necessary, know where you intend to put the ball, then look in a different direction as you hit it. Don’t be surprised if your opponents move way out of position to where you looked, and fail to respond to where you actually placed it.

Going a step further, literally, you can place your feet, angle your body, and arrange your arms in such a way to indicate a certain type of shot and position, but at the last split-second, place the ball in an unexpected location.