Dink, Dink, Bang is a two-person warm-up exercise for doubles players. With each player just behind the kitchen line, start with three dinks. The fourth shot will be a speed up, essentially aiming at your opponent’s chest. The opponent will then try to reset by dinking it back into the kitchen. Since this is five shots altogether, the bang and reset switch back and forth between the players. You can see this illustrated in the first exercise shown in this video:
I believe the first two rallies in the video below are the best. You can skip over the first few seconds of introduction where pickleball is compared to ping pong and tennis – we know all that!
But watch the first singles match! Where did he get that energy? Well, it’s not impossible even if you are of advanced years. We do get used to conserving energy. Instead, the next times you play pickleball, commit yourself to getting behind every ball. Don’t just stand there and hope for the best. Don’t think you can just flex to reach the harder shots. Do some split-stepping. Move! You may find it tiring and hard at first, but with time, moving will be come easy and second-nature to you.
Early in the second rally, an Erne shot is performed as if routine. The rest of the rally is amazing also.
Also notice that at times, both teammates are very close to each other. They both know where the next ball will be aimed by watching their opponents’ body positions. This seems to run counter to the idea that teammates should always be approximately 6 – 8 feet (2 – 2.5 meters) apart.
The rest of the rallies in this video are about speed. It is fun to watch, and not that hard to learn. In warm-ups or general drilling, work on standing at the kitchen line, and rally with your opponent entirely airborne. Slowly bring up the speed and power over the course of weeks.
Don’t forget to wear eye protection.
This is about a tennis player, but I believe as a pickleballer you’ll appreciate the similarities. Monsour Bahrami is who I want to be when I grow up, except for in the sport of pickleball.
Monsour Bahrami was 67 years old when this was filmed. As a child growing up in Iran, he was intrigued with tennis at an early age. However, he was not allowed to have a real tennis until he was 13 years old. Until then, he made do with frying pans and other household items.
Due to extremist views that regarded tennis as a capitalist pursuit in Iran, Monsour had to move to France where he went broke trying to be a serious tennis competitor.
At one point while trying desperately to make ends meet, he bet his entire winnings from a recent tournament in a casino and lost everything.
For a while, Mr. Bahrami was homeless in the streets of Paris until his reputation as a tennis trick shot expert and entertainer started to catch on.
He is also a champion backgammon player.
Your author has been working on some pickleball tricks. So far, I have put together a few serves:
In this video I demonstrate setting up the Erne shot.
For a right-hander, place a dink well to your left, close to your opponent’s right sideline. Quite often the opponent will direct this straight back to you along the sideline on your left. That’s your opportunity. The opponent has to make the shot high enough to clear the net. If you have moved to right beside the net, you can slam it back in a way that can’t be defended. Like most shots, you’re aiming at your opponent’s feet. With this shot, aiming for the feet is particularly important, because you don’t want to hit an unprepared player in the face.
It’s important not to jump at the opportunity too quickly, otherwise you’ll broadcast what you’re planning or just intimidate your opponent with your closeness in the kitchen, causing the opponent to send a diagonal to your partner or into the space you’ve leaving behind.
Your Erne should be a put-away, because you won’t be back in position in time to defend your half of the court. However, it usually is a put-away, which can absolutely surprise beginning and intermediate players.
Keep in mind that both feet have to have landed outside the kitchen before you can legally hit this shot. You are also not allowed to cross the plane of the net with your paddle. As if things weren’t already difficult enough, you are also not allowed to touch the net with any part of your body, your clothing or your paddle.
Enjoy this really long kitchen rally. Notice how the guy on the top left covers well into his partner’s area of the court as needed.
Notice also how the rally ends. The first guy after all that time who tried to accelerate the ball lost the point. That’s so common in kitchen rallies to the point that it’s almost an unwritten law: The first one to accelerate the ball is on the side that will lose the rally, unless it’s a sure put-away.
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
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.
The three main variations covered are wheelchair pickleball, beach pickleball and lawn pickleball. Some have some very strange rules such as a version in which one can pass the ball to one’s partner like in volleyball. I think it might be fun to see that in regular pickleball. Enjoy this well-made short video.
You’ll find both of these serves are easy to learn. They are semi-legal in that the ball is hit below the wrist and below the waist. However, some may dispute whether the strokes are truly underhand. The reason these would not work in tournament play is that they’d be called distractions.
The first serve is normal in most ways, except the paddle is swung around in two big, slow circles before hitting the ball. Optionally, you can put a spin on the ball as I am doing in the video. A little practice, and you’ll probably master this serve.
The second serve is more difficult. First, learn to toss the paddle in the air and let it spin one revolution before catching it. Then learn to do it with two spins. To protect your paddle, practice this over something soft like a carpet or lawn.
Work on holding the paddle vertically so that it doesn’t wobble in the air. If it wobbles, it will catch air, and the position of the handle after the spinning will become unpredictable.
Once two spins are so easy you don’t have to look at the catch, learn to throw up the ball simultaneously with the paddle. The throw must be high enough to allow the two spins to be completed before you hit the ball.
There is a tendency to hit this second serve above your waist. The trick is to learn to wait until the ball falls further.
You’ll find this second serve difficult on windy days, since the slightest puff will move the paddle, and you may miss the handle when you try to grip it.