When I work with most players, I recommend a practice tip that is sure to help your game. I ask them to freeze at the end of every point.
Freezing…Easier Said than Done
This practice tip is tough for most players. In fact, when we ask players at our clinics to do this after each point, they forget almost as soon as we suggest it. When playing pickleball, we all tend to react. We react to our opponents, our partner…the ball. Me move according to these things. It is as if we are pulled in a particular direction.
Freeze and Take Note of Your Body
At the end of every point, I want you to freeze exactly where you are. Before you move again, make a conscious note of the following items about your body:
- Are you balanced?
- Are you breathing?
- Is your paddle in the correct position?
- Would your weight have allowed you to move in the correct direction had the point continued?
As we discussed before, regardless of our respective skill levels, we all work on the same fundamentals! Balance…breathing…keeping the paddle up in front of your sternum…and, angling our body toward the ball are essential to high quality pickleball.
Freeze and Analyze
When we freeze after a point, we also have time to consider more carefully why we won or lost the point. For example, was the lost point caused by the last ball or one that occurred several shots before? Perhaps a war was started prematurely? Perhaps you or your partner tried a high-risk shot two shots earlier and now are paying the price. Perhaps when you were drawn off the court, or off-balance, you should have gone cross-court to give yourself a bit more time.
You might also take note of your and your opponent’s court position. Perhaps you are leaving a big section of the court open. It maybe when you hit to the middle, both of your opponents attempt to cover the shot. Consider how you might use that tendency against them.
Getting into the habit of reviewing others options and figuring out why they may or may not work is a huge contributor to growing your game. It is really tough to be analyze a point when you are in the middle of it. But if we can start to recognize and acknowledge those things after the point, it will help you notice them during the point.
The Benefit of a Practice Group
It is very helpful to have a group of people with whom you can practice regularly. If you have a practice group, ask everyone in the group to freeze at the end of the point and discuss your observations. It is often helpful to have a player observe from the sidelines as well, as they may take note of things that occurred in earlier shots that effected the outcome.
I realize many players find it difficult to find a group of players that want to practice and drill; however, you only need to find one player to use this valuable pickleball tip. Next time you practice, freeze at the end of each point. Ideally at the end of every point I’m out in front with my paddle and weight towards the ball ready to change direction if this is required. I don’t want to be moving in a direction before the right time and possibly going the wrong way. I want to be as relaxed as I can and loose.
I am always interested in hearing your feedback. If this tip helped you, please share your comment here or on my Facebook page.