Contact the Ball: Tennis Players Beware

In tennis, we learned it was all about preparation. We turned our body’s as we approached the ball so we could hit a forehand or a backhand.  However, often we made contact with the ball to the side of us.  This tennis tendency must change when you play pickleball.
contact the ball
Where Should You Contact the Ball?

While making contact with the ball to the side of you may work in tennis, in pickleball we must make contact with the ball in front of us. This was a hard habit for me to break.  In addition to hitting the ball on the side, like many tennis players, I often had my wrist and paddle in a V shape.  This can cause several challenges:

  1. We tend to let the ball drop, perhaps short hopping it, instead of hitting it in the air.  Remember, time is your asset in pickleball.  Every second you can take away from your opponent is valuable.
  2. We let the ball bounce close to our heel and pop the ball up.
  3. The V shape makes it more difficult to maneuver the tip of the paddle which is essential to softening the ball and also limits our range of motion.
Get Rid of the V

contact the ballWhen dinking or hitting a third shot drop I needed to learn to get rid of the V.  Instead I want my paddle to drop down in front of me so I can lift the ball over the net.  My paddle and hand are below my wrist, and my wrist is facing the ball.  If you are not hitting a third shot drop consistently over the net check to make sure you are hitting the ball in front of you and that the paddle is hanging below your wrist.

Hitting From Behind

When I notice a player not hitting the ball in front of them, I know I can work my next shot(s) to put them on defense. I continue to hit the ball back to that same spot.  It may take a shot or two, but they are likely to make an error…either hitting into the net or popping it up so my partner or I can put it away.

Keep it in Front of You

When we played tennis, we used bigger swings…but keep in mind the court was a lot bigger too.  In pickleball, we never need our paddle to go behind us.  The more the paddle stays in front of us, the quicker our recovery and the better prepared we are for the next shot.  Contact the ball in front of you if you want to improve.


One thought on “Contact the Ball: Tennis Players Beware

  1. Sarah, I think this is THE most important point to make about pickleball. Many think it’s mini-tennis – pickleball is SO not tennis! Those milliseconds spent turning one’s body for a stroke are wasted in the faster pace of pickleball. You make a compelling argument about hitting in front; I wasted a year figuring it out myself. Thanks for this exceptional tip!

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