Pickleball: Slow It Down

In my last pickleball post, I included a link to an article which explained that there doesn’t necessarily have to be dinking in any given pickleball game. If you missed that essay, you can catch it at this link:

There’s No Dinking in Pickleball

Below is a short video explaining the opposite view, i.e. why you need to use the slow game (which includes dinking).


Top 3 Reasons You Should Slow The Game Down | Pickleball Quick Tip

 

If you are convinced that this is something you would like to learn, Deb Harrison explains the general technique in the video below. At one point, she was a proponent of what she referred to as the “elephant dink.” She has since revised her thinking and is now a proponent of a slightly different dinking style.

Here is a video explaining her revised, new technique for hitting the dink.



NOTE – One of the key points she makes is to ALWAYS FACE THE BALL. This is good advice for all shots as champion Sarah Ansboury advocates.

If you would like to improve your soft/slow pickleball skills, here are three videos by 5.0 player Jordan Briones to help you practice dinking.


Pickleball Dink Drill | Straight On Dinks

 

Pickleball Dink Drill | Forehand Dinks

 

Pickleball Dink Drill | Backhand Dink

 

I hope you have found these helpful and that you are inspired to try to improve your dinking!

More Pickleball Videos

To See additional Pickleball Videos Covering Many Aspects of the Game Click Here (primarily for beginners and less experienced players)

Check out Additional Pickleball Info and Videos! (for all players including average to more experienced players)


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017


Pickleball Video: Dink Disguise for Hard Drive Surprise

Mark Renneson of Third Shot Sports, offers a hint to help catch our opponents off guard.

While watching the video, also notice how Mark uses his whole body to execute the dink. The movement is subtle, but his legs and torso give a motion of “lift” to the paddle/ball.

Another good hint he provides is to use a short back swing to help keep the shot soft.

Sepaking of dinking, here’s another hint. Many players already know this, but just in case…

I hope this helps with some new ways to think about the dink!

 

More Pickleball Videos

To See additional Pickleball Videos Covering Many Aspects of the Game Click Here (primarily for beginners and less experienced players)

Check out Additional Pickleball Info and Videos! (for all players including average to more experienced players)


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017


Pickleball Video – Defend the Wide, Angled Dink

According to official pickleball rules, the middle of the pickleball net is lower than at the ends:

  • 2.C.4. Height. The net shall be suspended over the center of the court and shall be 36 inches (0.914 m) high at the sidelines and 34 inches (0.86 m) high at the center of the court.
  • Inernational Federation of Pickleball – Official Tournament Rulebook

    The lowered portion of the net often provides a “safety factor” during the dink game where players try to dink at an angle across the center section of the net. During an exchange, a ball may pull a player very wide of the court because of the angle of the shot and leave that player with either a weak return or a very difficult return.

    In the video below Mark Renneson, pickleball player and coach, demonstrates the technique of hitting the ball around the post.

    Is this something you think you would like to try?

     

    About Third Shot Sports

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    Click the link to visit the Third Shot Sports Pickleball website.

    Thanks to Mark and Third Shot Sports for allowing this to be presented on JBRish.com

     

    More Pickleball Videos

    To See additional Pickleball Videos Covering Many Aspects of the Game Click Here (primarily for beginners and less experienced players)

    Check out Additional Pickleball Info and Videos! (for all players including average to more experienced players)

    Jeff Shank’s Pickleball Strategy – Opponent Weaknesses, Soft Game Necessities & More

    One of the topics in this segment of Jeff Shank’s tips is how to find the weaknesses in your opponent’s pickleball game and what to do once you have that information.

    NOTE – When playing in a non-competitive environment, if I find that our team is much better than the other team or only one person on the other team, I work with my partner to alter our strategy:

    1 – Don’t try to overwhelm a weaker player with the serve. Give them a chance to return the ball otherwise nobody is going to have any fun.

    2 – Don’t hit every shot to the weaker player. Include the stronger opponent as well. I often go out of my way to hit to a stronger player especially when I know they are better than me. I feel really good if I can score a point off of a very strong player. Keep pickleball a fun game by hitting to both opposing players. One way to do that is to always hit to the person on the other team serving the ball.

    3 – When I hit a ball to a weaker player, I will often hit a shot I think they can handle, i.e. less pace, etc. This gives me practice in learning to control my shot and it provides practice for the receiving player in returning the ball.

    CAUTION: I have found myself in the following situation, but I don’t worry about it:

    I have been on a team and we discovered that we are potentially much stronger than the opposing team. We may find ourselves ahead by five or six points so we begin to lighten up. At times, the opposing team is then able to muster enough good shots to make it a close game or even win. To me that’s OK. If it is a clubhouse game for fun, it doesn’t really matter.

    NOTE: This is my personal philosophy and I am not suggesting it has to be yours.

    4 – I sometimes use a game with less skilled players to practice shots I need to work on such as the third shot drop shot.

    What does Jeff Shank say about the soft game? I know many players who will try very hard to avoid dinking and playing the soft game. Why does Jeff suggest the soft game is so important to learn?

    What does he suggest when you mishit a ball?

    What does Jeff say is “more important than just about anything else?”

    Other topics include the importance of drills, how to anticipate your opponent’s shot so you can be ready and what to do when a high ball is headed to the non-volley zone on your side of the net.

    NOTE – To find out about this series of posts, i.e. 100 Pickleball Strategies by Jeff Shank, read the first post HERE

     

    To See additional Pickleball Videos Covering Many Aspects of the Game Click Here (primarily for beginners and less experienced players)

    Check out Additional Pickleball Info and Videos! (for all players including average to more experienced players)

    Jeff Shank’s Pickleball Strategy – Time Out, Dinking, Ego

    We are continuing our series based on Jeff Shank’s YouTube video about pickleball strategy. In this segment Jeff explains why, when playing in a tournament, it is important to take time outs at certain points, the importance of dinking and how to handle your ego.

    Dinking – A love-hate relationship

    There are those who do whatever they can to avoid the dinking game. Sometimes this leads to unforced errors because although a return dink may be the best option, a player may lack confidence or run out of patience and try to hit a hard line drive return.

    The good news and bad news about dinking:

    Bad news first…It is a big part of the game when your skill set gets you into the 3.5 and above playing levels. Skilled players dink to win.

    The good news…It isn’t that hard to gain proficiency in dinking.

    Jeff offers a number of tips:

    • What type of foot movement does he suggest?
    • What stance should the player have when waiting for a return dink?
    • What is the problem with cross-stepping?
    • What is the best dink option that provides the largest margin for error?
    • What are the advantages to taking a dink as a volley if possible?

    No room for ego

    After the dinking lesson, Jeff explains why pickleballers (as well as other team sport members) need to play with no ego. What that means is, recognize when other players (i.e. your partner) are better and let them take certain shots. Also…listen to information that other players might have about your opponents.

    NOTE – When I play doubles, I will usually discuss our opponents with my partner. I try to tell them who has a spin serve, who is good at lobbing, etc. I also like to explain that if I run to their side of the court to cover a lob, they should move over to my vacated side. I will often yell “switch.”

    Weak partner, strong partner relationship

    If you play in tournaments or at very competitive venues, listen to what Jeff has to say about the weaker-stronger partner relationship.

     

     

    For a refresher video about how to perfect the dink shot, click HERE

    NOTE – To find out about this series of posts, i.e. 100 Pickleball Strategies by Jeff Shank, read the first post HERE

     

    To See additional Pickleball Videos Covering Many Aspects of the Game Click Here (primarily for beginners and less experienced players)

    Check out Additional Pickleball Info and Videos! (for all players including average to more experienced players)

    Jeff Shank’s Pickleball Strategy – Net Dribbles, Lobs and More

    In this video segment, watch for these points:

    Net Dribbles


  • How to handle balls that dribble over the net to give yourself time to get out of your non-volley zone (NVZ).
  • NOTE: Other top players advise that if you can angle the ball cross court while you retreat from the NVZ, it will give you more time to recover since to hit the ball back to you will take the opposing team member a fraction longer. Presumably your partner is already at the NVZ in anticipation of a possible return to them and they are not on the move.

  • What shot should you hit if the opposing player goes after a ball that dribbles over the net on their side and the ball is returned to you a bit high?
  • CLARIFICATION: The only reason the above technique works is because the ball is returned too high. If the return was a good dink into the half of the NVZ closest to the net, only a dink return would be advised.

    NOTE: At the 27:05 mark the sound gets very low so you might want to raise it!

    The Lob


  • Under what circumstances should the lob be used?
  • What is the best shot to use to recover from a bad (too short) lob and you suspect that it is coming right back at you?
  • Why does Jeff Shank suggest you should say to your partner: “Come up! Come up!“?
  •  

    Keeping the Ball Deep


  • Why should you serve the ball deep?
  • Why is it even more important to get the serve return deep?
  • Lefty-Righty Potential Advantage


  • What advantage would a team have (in many instances) if they are playing against a team with a right-handed player and a left-handed player?
  •  

    NOTE: Jeff points out that his suggestions are not the ONLY way to play the game, but he feels these are appropriate strategies for most players. Many pickleballers will develop some of their own personal strategies and as long as they work for you, stick with them.


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    NOTE – To find out about this series of posts, i.e. 100 Pickleball Strategies by Jeff Shank, read the first post HERE

     

    To See additional Pickleball Videos Covering Many Aspects of the Game Click Here (primarily for beginners and less experienced players)

    Check out Additional Pickleball Info and Videos! (for all players including average to more experienced players)

    Pickleball – How to Reduce the Speed of a Ball to Reset the Point

    Defend Against Hard Hitters by Taking Pace off the Ball – Pickleball 411

    I think most of us will recognize this situation…

    We are facing an opponent who is more skilled than us and they are able to really bang the ball back in a hard, sharp line with plenty of speed. We try with all of our might just to get the ball back onto their side of the net when it comes our way.

    Even if we manage to return the ball, it seems to be hit or miss or, at best, a weak return. The video below describes one way to “slow the game down” by reducing the speed of the ball and getting it back in a place where instead of being on defense, you have a chance of being on equal footing with the banger.

    NOTE – I have read other techniques which require a loose grip on the paddle to absorb the impact of the banger’s shot to take the speed off of the ball. This technique, however, asks the player to hold the paddle firm, but barely move the paddle, i.e. bunt the ball back.

    Bunting the ball” will cause it to fall with less depth and pace onto the other side of the court where, theoretically, it is harder to bang it back at you and may lead to a dink series where the odds of you winning the point are increased. Watch the video to see if this can improve your percentage of winning points.

     

    To See additonal Pickleball Videos Covering Many Aspects of the Game Click Here (primarily for beginners and less experienced players)

    Check out Additional Pickleball Info and Videos! (for all players including average to more experienced players)

    Pickleball: Don’t Stink at the Dink!

    There are a number of pickleballers who don’t like the soft game. They do everything they can to avoid it. Unfortunately, as most experts will point out, it is hard to achieve pickleball excellence without a good soft game, i.e. the dink.

     

    Five Elements of Dinking

    This brief video explains all of the elements of a good dinking game. Watch the video to improve your dinking skills.

    As quoted from the YouTube video:

    Do you know one of the secrets to taking your game to the next level? It’s mastering the soft game using the dink! Many players love to smash the ball hard, but everyone knows top players use dinking to control the game and ultimately win. In this episode of Pickleball 411, we are fortunate enough to hear from pickleball ambassador Tom Early from Canton, Georgia as he demonstrates a key reason why you must have the dink as part of your game plus five steps to get started! [emphasis is mine ]

    If you think dinking isn’t a serious aspect of the sport, you can watch Deb Harrison explain her “all day dink” technique. If so many people are talking about it, it must be important; right? I mean after all…Can millions of Elvis fans be wrong?

    Click here for Deb Harrison’s dinking video

    To See More Pickleball Videos Click Here

    Let’s Hear Praise for the Pickleball Bangers

    The article below is being presented here with permission from the author, Mark Renneson. Mark is a 5.0 pickleball player, coach and advocate. He is the founder of Third Shot Sports which provides first-class tennis and pickleball training. He lives in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada. You can reach him at mark@thirdshotsports.com

    If you would like to receive the Third Shot Sports Pickleball Newsletter, click here to register.

    To visit the Third Shot Sports Pickleball website, click here.

    Thanks to Mark and Third Shot Sports for allowing this to be presented on JBRish.com.


    In Praise of The Banger:
    Why We Should Thank Hard-Hitters

    By Mark Renneson

    “Uh! I’m so glad I don’t have to play with those people again!”
    “Why?”
    “They don’t play proper pickleball. All they do is smash it as hard as they can!” “I see. So how badly did you beat them?”
    “We lost 15-5.”

    This was an actual conversation I had with a 3.5 level player in 2014. I have since heard many more complaints about “bangers” and how their style of pickleball (i.e. hit hard in an attempt to overpower the opponents) is somehow improper, less pure and less “correct” than those who look to win by dinking and using the soft game. I think it is about time to address this negative attitude toward bangers and to unpack the mistaken assumptions that underpin it.

    Why Bangers Bang

    Why is it that some players look to hit hard whenever possible? The answer is twofold: First, it’s relatively easy to hit hard. It takes little precision – much less than an excellent soft shot – and it is a skill that is accessible to most players. Sure, you might hit a few balls long, but overall it’s far simpler than dropping the ball gently in the first half of the kitchen. Second, players often hit hard because it works! More precisely, because it works against players of a certain level. Rarely is it the case that beginning, novice and even intermediate players have sufficient volleying skills to handle balls that are hit hard at them. Indeed, in the case of the player I referenced above, while she was reasonably proficient with her soft game, her volleying was weak. She could get medium-speed balls back but anything faster and she was in trouble. Her opponents recognized that they won points when they blasted it at her and so they kept doing it. It was smart strategy on their part and they were rewarded. Bangers bang because it gets them points. Until it doesn’t…

    Why Experts Don’t Bang

    When you watch the best players play, it is rare that you see them hit the third shot hard at their opponent. Why? If banging works and is easy to do, why don’t the best players use it all the time? Surely they can bang as well or better than anyone else. Instead, unlike their less-skilled counterparts, experts usually play a soft shot into the kitchen and then get into a dinking rally. Are they playing “properly”? No. Are they playing the “right” way? No. They are using soft shots as a deliberate strategy to help them win.

    Experts use soft shots because they are usually playing with other experts. And as an expert, their opponents have great volleying skills. At a high level, a ball smashed hard from the back of the court will be volleyed back with ease – often for a winner. Excellent players’ volleys are too good for banging; it’s a losing strategy to try to overpower an expert from the back of the court so they don’t do it. It has nothing to do with playing a purer version of the game and has everything to do with effectiveness. If an expert believed his opponent couldn’t handle a fast ball when at the net, he would most certainly hit it hard right at him. But experts have great volleys which makes banging basically useless.

    To Bang or Not To Bang?

    So what should you do: Hit your third shot hard at your opponents? Avoid hitting hard in favour of third shot drops? Where do you go from here? First, I advocate for doing what works. Pickleball is a game and games have winners and losers. I encourage you play the kind of game that works for you. If hitting hard is an effective strategy at your level, go for it! Overpower your opponents and show them that their volleys aren’t good enough to handle your powerful shots. That said, if you want to be able to compete at a higher level – against better volleyers – you must also develop a competent soft game. Your current strategy won’t work forever and you should prepare for the future.

    Second, I urge you to become a player who doesn’t fall victim to the banger. The woman in the story that began this piece lost to her hard-hitting opponents. It’s too bad her anger was directed at them for “not playing properly” rather than at herself for not being skilled enough to receive fast-paced shots. Had she had better volleys she would have either received their hard shots well enough to win the game, or forced them to change strategies and play the softer shots she thought more appropriate.

    Why We Should Praise Bangers

    Hard-hitting players do us a great service: they help us to evaluate our skills. They point out the limits of our net game and can provide motivation to get better. Rather than deriding her opponents, the woman from my story should have thanked them for highlighting the work she needed to do to get to the next level. The bangers she lost to acted as a measuring stick for her and they can do the same for all of us. If our net game cannot stand up to the fast pace of the bangers, that’s a sign that we need to get better. We should practice, take lessons from a good coach and work deliberately until our volleys are so good that our opponents can no longer overpower us. We should learn to volley so well that even the best bangers are no match for us. Until then, the next time you lose to a banger consider thanking them for the lesson.

    Learn by Watching the Pros – Dink-A-Dink-A-Do!

    The video below has some longish rallies/volleys and I think we can learn a lot about Pickleball strategy when watching some of them.

    I believe Matt Staub and Kyle Yates are in the left-hand court as you watch the video. As far as I can tell, Kyle is in the white T-shirt. Both Matt and Kyle have an interesting technique which involves stepping slightly off of the court to hit a ball in the air that appears to be headed for the kitchen. By stepping off of the court to strike a ball that is near the sideline, but in the playing area, they can assume a position close to the net that would be a fault if they were inside the playing boundaries. This happens a few times during the match. You can watch for it at the 2:34-2:37 mark of the video as Kyle slams a ball back at his opponents from the “near net, off court” position.

    Also note how much each side relies on the dink shot. The soft game is used extensively in this match and is something I need to focus on more than I do!


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    In an interview here, Kyle Yates had this to say when asked for any tips or advice:

    “People like to complicate the game with all these different techniques and styles, but we tend to forget that the object of the game is to hit the ball IN the court. Pickleball is a game of errors, not winners. All you have to try to do is keep the ball in play longer than your opponents. Strategy is involved only after you understand that concept. Strategy is involved only to make your opponent’s job of keeping the ball in play more difficult. There is a very fine line of demarcation between going for a win, and forcing your opponent to make an error.”

    When watching the video, you can see this theory in action. Most of the time, Kyle’s team just tries to keep the ball in play until an opportune moment or the other team makes an error.