Advanced Pickleball: Control the Pace of the Ball

We have all seen it happen. The rally gets harder, and harder. Suddenly it is out of control. To play advanced pickleball, you must learn to control the pace of the ball.
control the pace of the ball
Hard Sharp Angles
We’ve talked about players that move too much, and often hit the ball while moving.  When players are in the habit of moving a lot, the energy of their constant shuffling goes into the ball.  The speed of the ball increases, and often the angle increases as well.  It is likely at some point they will hit the ball into the net, float a ball which the opponent can smash down, or hit the ball wide.

If I find my partner in this position and their crosscourt dink rally is getting faster and faster, I anticipate the opponent using the pace that is building to come at me.  If I am very lucky, they will hit the ball wide to me and I can hit a ball around the post.  But if this isn’t possible, I want to control the pace of the ball.

Control the Pace of the Ball

Being in control of the pace you are hitting is a big key to advanced pickleball. If you are hitting a harder, faster ball you want it to be purposeful. You want to take advantage of the situation and win the point.

  • Perhaps you have hit several third shot drops and now want to surprise your opponent with a hard flat shot down the middle;
  • Or you have the opportunity to smash down an overhead;
  • Or catch the player straight across the net napping.

But there are many times in a rally that you may find the ball going faster and faster and you are no longer in control.  Remember, when you are no longer controlling the point you are no longer on offense.  If you are out of control, simply reacting to the ball…you are on defense.  Your goal at that point is to return to neutral.

To regain control in this situation I first take a breath. I will most often drop my paddle to take a forehand in front of me.  Ideally, I want to allow the ball to bounce as this will slow the ball just a bit.  By taking a soft forehand with a relaxed grip I can reset the point.  Breathing keeps me in control of myself…and with this, I can control the pace of the ball.


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