All except the best pickleball players telegraph their moves with their eyes and their stance. With practice, you can become good at reading these signs, and know where your opponent is going to place the ball almost before they do. I think you can imagine what you might do with this intelligence. Right, move to where the opponent is silently telling you the ball is going to go, so you’ll be ready for it. This is not easy, because not only do you need to follow the movement of the ball, but have to take a split second to see, at least peripherally, what’s happening with the person who is about to hit the ball. You don’t need to see much. The tiniest glance can tell you that the feet are moving to the left for a diagonal shot to the right, or that the opponent is looking toward the backcourt to place a lob. I have even seen players look at the ceiling to make sure their lob won’t go too high.
You might not be the only one who can read body language. In fact, almost all players do it to some degree automatically. You can turn this situation the other way around, by quickly assessing where you plan to put a ball, then looking in another direction. You might even place your feet askew or move your arms and upper body as if you are planning to do one thing, but then at the last moment, switch and do another. The most common versions are looking like you’re planning a drop shot into the non-volley zone, then blasting out a passing shot, or looking to the left as you drop a nice soft shot into the very middle of the non-volley zone.
This can also be done with backcourt shots, although it is less effective. You might look like you’re going to return a serve hard down the middle, but place a softer shot into the side of the kitchen. You can read more about this in the Faking section.
2 thoughts on “Pickleball Eyes”
Where can I find suggested adaptations for visually impaired players?
I am blind in one eye and have trouble seeing the ball.
That’s a great question, and I don’t know a good answer. Perhaps other readers of this website can offer comments.
I did play on several occasions with a fellow who was also blind in one eye. He played quite well, but occasionally would have trouble when something was outside of his field of vision.
We didn’t do it, but I’m guessing that if we had used stacking, in which the players switch positions after the serve, that would have been helpful.
It also seemed to help him to stay back while I went forward, so he could keep me in his vision. Normally, both players come to the net at the same time, but I think for him, staying back until the game turned into a kitchen rally was the better choice.