In today’s blog we’re going to be talking about three shots that are hurting your pickleball game.
If you’re doing any one of these then there’s a really good chance it’s preventing you from getting to that 4.0+ and beyond level and just generally preventing you from being the player that you know you can be.
Shot #1 – Bad Speed Ups
Shot number one that we’re going to be talking about today is the bad speed up.
There’s several different reasons that a shot may be considered a bad speed up and we’re going to go over some of the biggest examples today that we see happening out there on the courts.
One example of a bad speed up is a red zone speed up, a red zone attack.
Now what is the red zone?
The red zone is generally the area from your knee and below.
No matter where you are in the court, if you’re in the transition zone or especially up at the non-valley zone line, if you’re making contact below that red zone, the net is in the way. Therefore, you have it hit up.
Even if you’re further back from the transition, if you’re hitting a low contact, then you have to be hitting up.
This typically puts you at a disadvantage because then your opponents have high contacts with which they can hit down at you or away off the court. It puts them in the driver’s seat of the point when they have a high contact.
So, that’s a situation that you’re going to want to avoid because most of the time that’s going to be hurting your game.
Another example of a bad speed up is an out of position speed up.
What does that look like?
That means that you’re speeding it up from a position where for the very next shot that comes back you and your partner do not have the court well defended from that next shot coming from your opponent.
The way this typically looks is that you get pulled off the court a bit and you’re then hitting an attacking shot, a driving ball, that you may be trying to overwhelm them with pace or get it by them and they are able to just redirect it into the gap or to whatever area that you or your partner have now left open on the court.
Maybe they did the out of position speed up or you did it but you’re separated somewhat, there could be a gap in the middle, or you’re squeezed together somewhat and there could be a gap on one side or the other in the court and your opponent just kind of takes your pace and blocks it firmly back that way and the point is over.
That’s another example of a bad speed up.
The last example we have for you today is basically what we typically know as banging.
You’re just speeding up everything and trying to hit it at max speed.
You’re trying to overwhelm your opponents with pace.
That can work for a time at lower levels but, as you may have heard, as you progress in levels you have to develop the complete skill set.
This means slowing the ball down, getting yourself out of a situation where you may have a red zone contact or a low contact or an out of position contact and hitting a reset shot so that you have time to then get back in position and rebuild the point and advance to the net and try to set up an attack.
If you’re hitting everything at max speed then you’re almost certainly hitting bad speed ups, low contacts, out of position and other things.
That “hitting everything hard strategy”, as we said, will only work up until a certain point.
You’re going to need to get out of that because if you’re hitting everything hard then there’s a really good chance you’re hitting a bad speed up once or repeatedly throughout the point.
This puts your team at a disadvantage because you’re giving your opponent high contacts. If they can’t handle that pace that’s great but at higher levels they can and they’re going to make you pay for that.
You really need to stop doing the bad speed ups in general if you want to progress to higher levels of play in pickleball.
Shot #2 – One Trick Pony
The next shot that we’re going to be talking about that could be hurting your game and preventing you from getting to those next levels is what we call the one trick pony shot.
This shot is a bit of a double-edged sword because one trick pony typically means you’re overly reliant on your weapon, whatever that is, and typically it’s a strong forehand.
Having a strong forehand is certainly great but it’s not good if you’re using it to the exclusion of all other things. For example you’re avoiding your backhand entirely and you’re running around it putting yourself way out of position to hit that big forehand.
It’s great you like the forehand itself but the fact that you’re using it at the wrong times is the problem.
You really need to develop yourself into a complete well-rounded player if you hope to ascend up the pickleball ladder.
In addition to that, and really side by side with that, is that if you only have one way to deal with any situation like you’re hitting a forehand on anything and everything then you become highly predictable.
Your opponents know what’s coming. They know that you are trying to hit a forehand all the time and they’re going to strategically use that against you.
They will find ways to get to your backhand and that’s going to create a big problem for you if now they’re getting there and you just can’t do anything with that.
All of a sudden your one trick pony shot is ineffective because they’re preventing you from hitting it. Good players at higher levels are going to be able to do that.
So, the one trick pony shot is great to have but you need to be making sure that you’re looking at your whole game and developing yourself into a complete player so you can deal with all situations.
Don’t be overly reliant on your one big weapon. It’s not going to work.
You need more than one way to deal with the situation because you’re going to come out with your plan A and they may have a good plan A to counter what you’re doing with your plan A.
You might have to adjust strategies and if that strategy involves you needing to be able to hit a backhand and you don’t like it, well that’s going to be a problem.
So, this is why the one trick pony shot could be preventing you from getting to higher levels that you want to be at.
Look at your entire game, assess all the skills that are needed in pickleball, and proceed accordingly.
If you don’t like your backhand, work your backhand.
You’re not confident in your drop? Work your drop.
the obstacle is the way to get better so don’t ignore it.
Have fun with your weapons but add to your game so you’re constantly improving your skill set and your arsenal to be able to do some damage out there on the court and win more.
Shot #3 – Going For Too Much
The third type of shot that we’re going to be talking about is one that we see many players doing. It’s a very common problem in pickleball. We all have to reel ourselves in at times.
It’s that shot we’re just going for too much.
That shot, whether it be one or more, that you just don’t have full command of and you’re trying to use it in competitive play and things are not going well because it only takes one miss shot to lose the point.
If you’re going for these shots continuously that you do not have command of, that’s a quick way to be losing a lot of points in a row and going downhill quickly in the game.
If you want shots, you need to put the time in to develop them.
And yes, in play you need to be pushing the range of your skill set. Pushing up against the edge, against the envelope.
You don’t want to be going way outside of your range and that’s what we’re talking about here.
It’s not the shot where you’re experimenting and you’re pressing your skills a little bit. Working at the edges to see what you can do.
It’s those shots that you’re going way over the experimental edge.
That shot for a pro or someone may be a shot that they’re making like 99 percent of the time and it certainly is achievable if you’re willing to put the work in but you may not have it right now.
It’s a really good project to go and work on it but if you don’t have it then you’re going to have to go with something that you know you can reliably make eight or nine out of ten times even.
In pickleball it takes a lot of shots often to win the point so you have to be making quite a few shots just to get on that scoreboard each and every point.
You can’t be going for a shot that you’re going to make or miss 50/50. It’s like a coin flip if you’re making that shot.
If you do that one shot, and then the next shot, you’ve lost the point probably within two, at best, three.
That game’s just not going to be winnable for you if you’re going for things way outside of your range.
Dial it in. Go for more makeable shots for you and work up your skill set in practice and drill sessions to those skills that you want to be able to hit and add to your arsenal.
Those are the three types of shots that you’re going to want to take a look at.
Assess how often you are doing those types of things in your play.
We certainly have to do that as well. We all do.
That’s part of the beauty of the game is that we’re always figuring things out.
It’s a constant puzzle.
If you’re doing one of these three things then it really is hurting you from getting to those higher echelons of play. Reel it in, get on track, have a plan for yourself and go from there.
Don’t forget to have fun while you’re doing it because at the end of the day it’s a great sport that we want to be having fun with and seeing how good we can get out there.